Mumbai: All higher and lower courts across Maharashtra and Goa wore a deserted look on Wednesday as around 1.4 lakh lawyers joined the two day nation wide strike called by the Bar Council of India, an official said.

The legal fraternity is protesting against the entry of foreign institutes and universities and a proposed legislation which could affect the autonomy of the BCI a statutory body, said Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG) vice president Ashish P. Deshmukh.

"The response to the agitation call is 100 percent in the two states and will remain so even on Thursday as the legal fraternity is extremely concerned about these issues," Deshmukh told .

Lawyers also plan to make a bonfire of the copies of the Higher Education & Research Bill, 2011, outside the Bombay High Court to register their protest.

Nearly 1.70 million lawyers across the country are expected to take part in the agitation. In Maharashtra and Goa, 410 affiliated bar associations, including high courts, metropolitan courts, sessions courts, labour courts, family courts, accident claims tribunals, central administrative tribunals and Maharashtra administrative tribunal, have joined the stir, Deshmukh said.

"The government aims to pass this bill in the ensuing monsoon session of parliament. The BCMG believes it would act as a hindrance for the country's higher education sector, including law education, and we are vehemently opposing it," Deshmukh told.

He said that once foreign universities enter the country, they would act independently and have their own syllabus different from Indian standards, which could create problems.

Deshmukh said the proposed bill would also alter the Advocates Act, 1961, rendering all national, state and local bar councils ineffective.

Introduced in the Rajya Sabha last year, the bill proposes to set up a National Commission which would regulate university education, including vocational, technical, professional and medical education.

Lawyers demand that legal education be left out of the purview of the proposed legislation."In an independent country, it is necessary to have an independent bar and independent judiciary. This independence would be curbed with the proposed bill and badly hit law students and practitioners," Deshmukh said.

He said the BCMG had appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and others not to pass the bill in its present form.

Deshmukh said unless the government heeded the legal community, lawyers all over the country would launch a "jail bharo" agitation.

(Agencies)

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