Rashmi Rekha Das

Lawyers’ agitation demanding a permanent High Court bench at Sambalpur took an ugly turn when a scuffle broke out between police and agitating lawyers at Kacheri Sqaure in Sambalpur on Wednesday. 

Like every Wednesday, lawyers observed bandh by boycotting court. The police reportedly uprooted tents camped by the lawyers that led to a spat between police and the protestors.  

It is learnt that when judges tried to enter the court premises, agitating lawyers had debarred them from entering into the court campus.  

Upon being informed, Sambalpur Superintendent of Police rushed to the spot and talked to the lawyers following which the latter were pacified. 

Meanwhile, adequate police forces have been deployed at  the site to avoid any untoward incident.

Notably, the Supreme Court has recently directed the Bar Council of India to cancel the licenses of all agitating lawyers. It has also asked the district administrations to provide protection to judicial officials and others. Licenses of the lawyers will stand cancelled until they resume duties.

Sambalpur Lawyers’ Association President on Tuesday had informed mediapersons that they would continue their strike although the Supreme Court directed the Bar Council of India to cancel the licenses of agitating lawyers.

Lawyers’ body swung into action and debarred judge and other employees from entering the court premises. When police intervened, a clash erupted between police and the lawyers.

Clash intensified between police and the protestors when the former told them to vacate the dharna site.

It is pertinent to note that every Wednesday lawyers’ body in Sambalpur has been boycotting court demanding a High Court bench in Sambalpur. Although the Centre had asked the state to file a composite proposal in this regard, the government is yet to do so.

Pradeep Bahidar, President of Action Committee, said, “Young lawyers have given their blood. It won’t go futile. We would not discontinue our protest at any cost. If required, 1600 lawyers would surrender their license.”
BJP leader Jay Narayan Mishra said, “We are part of the lawyers’ protest. We are with them. Setting up of High Court bench at Sambalpur is the need of the hour.”

“We are yet to avail the apex court’s order. We have been protesting for setting up of a High Court bench in Sambalpur for a long time. We are fed up with the indifferent attitude of the state government and the Centre towards us,” said another protesting lawyer.

Sambalpur District Lawyers’ Association President Sureswar Mishra said, “We honour Supreme Court’s direction. Hundreds of people have joined us in support of lawyers’ demand for High Court bench.  This is a fight for our honour. For the interest of common people, we are fighting for the cause.” 

Earlier, the Supreme Court expressed its anger after learning that court works have been affected badly due to lawyers’ protests over the setting up of High Court benches in the state.

“It is not feasible to set up High Court benches in every district. It is not humanly possible to set up so many High Court benches in all districts. It is not possible practically and infrastructure wise. It is not prudent. Bihar is a big state but it has one High Court at Patna”, the bench stated.