Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: The long-standing demand for a permanent bench of Orissa High Court in Western Odisha once again became a subject of debate as the three major political parties in the State- BJP, BJD and Congress - engaged in political mudslinging after the matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha today.

In reply to a question by BJD’s Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya, Minister of State for Law and Justice and Corporate Affairs, PP Chaudhary today said that the Centre has not received a complete proposal from the Odisha government to set up a HC bench in Western Odisha.

Chaudhary said that the consent of the concerned State’s HC Chief Justice and Governor is needed for the purpose but the Odisha government has not provided the same.

The ruling-BJD government had written to the Central government for the establishment of two HC benches (in West and South Odisha) in September 2013 and the matter was later referred to the then Chief Justice in October 2013. However, even after five years, the matter is still pending.

Amid such dilly-dallying, many have raised questions whether the Naveen government is really serious about the need of the people of Western Odisha or is just delaying the matter fearing a negative impact on its vote bank.

Meanwhile, Acharya termed the reply of Chaudhary as ‘misleading’ and said that it’s the responsibility of the Centre to set up the HC bench.

“The onus now solely lies with the Centre; by bringing in Parliamentary norms, it must set up the HC bench,” he said.

Lashing out at the Naveen government, BJP's national secretary, Suresh Pujari however said that the Centre could not take any decision as the State government didn’t provide a complete proposal.

“The Centre can’t take any decision on the permanent bench till the State government provides a complete proposal,” said Pujari.

Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra on the other hand slammed both the BJD government in Odisha and the BJP government at the Centre for the delay.

“Even after coming to power, the Modi government never gave a reminder to the Odisha Chief Justice on the matter. Both the State and the Centre have deprived the people of Western Odisha from a permanent HC bench.

“The State government has never shown any interest for a HC bench in Western Odisha. The manner in which it exerts pressure on the Centre on other issues, the same has never been seen for a permanent HC bench. Both the Centre and the State governments are lingering the matter,” rued Niranjan Tripathy, secretary of Central Action Committee.