Cassian Baliarsingh

Few hours after the Supreme Court ruled out the possibility of the formation of a permanent HC bench in western Odisha, the Sambalpur police intensified its raids and arrested another 8 lawyers including the Sambalpur Bar Association President Sureswar Mishra. 

With this, the total number of arrests rose to 23 on Thursday as 15 other lawyers were arrested earlier. Meanwhile, the tally of arrests is expected to rise more as police continue raids to nab many others involved in the vandalism of the chamber of a district judge during the protest in Sambalpur over demand for the establishment of Orissa HC bench in the district.

On the other hand, 5 transgenders have also been arrested in this connection, informed Sambalpur SP B Gangadhar. Police are making the arrests based on the CCTV footage in the court. 

“Eight advocates have been arrested today. Among them is Sambalpur Bar Association President Sureswar Mishra. Action Committee Sambalpur Bar Association chairman Pradip Bahidar is also among the arrestees. They will be forwarded to court today,” informed the SP over phone. 

“Apart from this, they are involved in a conspiracy in other violence-related incidents. We will take legal action based on CCTV and video footage. A few members of the transgender community also have been arrested for their involvement in the vandalism,” he added.

Meanwhile, the prohibitory orders under Section 144 is still in place at Kacheri Chhak, the protest site, to maintain law and order situation. People are prohibited from entering the 200 metres radius of the prohibited area. 

Earlier, the Bar Council of India has suspended the licences of 29 lawyers with immediate effect for a period of 18 months. 

While hearing the matter yesterday, the Supreme Court said, “There is no question of setting up Benches. The passage of time and use of technology has made the demands obsolete. The use of technology is quite widespread now and monitored by the Orissa HC. No need for additional bench exits.  

The court further said that the shifting or creation of HC benches cannot be done with such whimsical demands.

The bench hit out at the lawyers protesting over the demand and said, “We condemn the conduct of striking lawyers by who burnt an effigy...the police should have effected preventive arrest and such people should have been in custody for some time at least....We have put the burden on the police authorities to treat criminals like criminals.” 

“There is no hope for formation of a bench. Even if there was some possibility, that is lost now with their conduct,” the bench added.


(Reported by Sanjay Jena, OTV)