Rashmi Rekha Das

In a jolt to the agitation by lawyers demanding for setting up of High Court bench in Sambalpur, the Registrar General of the Orissa High Court has submitted an affidavit in Supreme Court mentioning that there is no need to set up High Court benches in the state if courts can get virtual access of proceedings. 

Following this move of the HC's Registrar General, lawyers’ hope of getting a permanent High Court bench in Sambalpur has received a massive setback. 

Meanwhile, the state wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has blamed the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for the entire chaos. The Opposition alleged that the matter is getting complicated day by day due to the government’s failure to take a stand in this regard

The protesting lawyers also accused the state government of creating an inordinate delay in filing a detailed proposal in this regard. 

It is pertinent to note that four days back, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju made a clarification in this regard while answering to a question raised by Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, Lok Sabha MP from Koraput.

He stated, "Presently, there is no complete proposal' from the Government of Odisha to establish a new Bench of the Orissa High Court pending with the Central Government."

“The Odisha government has not yet submitted a detailed proposal for the establishment of benches of Orissa High Court including its location in consultation with the HC,” informed Kiren Rijiju in a written reply.

He further said that when Odisha government requested for setting up of Orissa High Court benches in western and southern regions of the state, on April 20, the Union Law Minister wrote to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking a detailed report in that connection.
On the other hand, the state government had a discussion with the Central Action Committee of Western Odisha Bar Association in which the government was urged to submit a detailed report to the Apex Court. As the state government failed to do so, lawyers launched a protest.   

Meanwhile, keeping in view the decision of Supreme Court, the Central Action Committee of all Bar Association of Western Odisha has decided to suspend the protest.

Pradeep Bahidar, President of Action Committee, had earlier said, “If required, we will launch Jail Bharo Andolan to press for our demand. We will not regret submitting our licenses. To avoid mass surrender of licenses, the Bar Council of India has cancelled our licenses.”

Lawyer Rabi Narayan Samantray had said, “No one is ready to understand the problems locals facing here. This problem can be solved if the Apex Court and Orissa High Court take a concrete decision in this regard by maintaining coordination with each other.”

Reported by Sanjay Bahidar, OTV