Devbrat Patnaik

Cuttack: Multiple cease-work agitations by the lawyers’ Unions backed by Orissa High Court Bar Association has been a boiling issue in Odisha for the past few months. On account of this, not only do the Courts stop functioning and the proceedings halt, but thousands of common masses suffer endlessly.

In an attempt to put an end to this, it was none other than the Registrar of the Orissa HC himself who filed a petition alleging delay in court proceedings due to such protests.

Acting on the petition, a 14-member full bench of the Orissa High Court today issued show cause notice to the bar associations across all districts seeking a reply by October 21 on why lawyers boycotting court proceedings shouldn't be held contempt of court.

This apart, the bench has also served notices to Chief Secretary, Secretaries of Home & Law Departments, Presidents of National and State Bar Council and High Court Bar Association President and Secretary.

"Today's contempt proceeding was in connection with the agitation of lawyers over various irregularities. However, it was surprising to see under what provision of law was a 14-member full bench formed to hear a contempt proceeding. We will hold another general body meeting tomorrow and all the members of the HC will abide by whatever decision the body takes," said Gopal Krushna Mohanty, President, High Court Bar Association.

It is for the first time in history of the Orissa HC that a full bench was constituted to hear a case.

It is to be noted that different district bar associations like Koraput, Kalahandi, Sambalpur and Berhampur have been staging cease-work agitations demanding establishment of a bench of the High Court in their respective regions.

While the Sambalpur bar association observes cease-work on last three working days every month, similar agitation in the undivided Koraput district has been continuing for the last 11 months.

Likewise, the Berhampur bar association holds cease-work demonstration on four working days every month. The High Court Bar Association has also launched a cease work strike since Monday protesting the collegium system and demanding formation of National Judicial Appointments Commission.

On the other hand, the agitating lawyers' body said that it would decide its next course of action after getting notice of the Orissa HC full bench.

"As of now we don't know what issues have been raised in the notice. Therefore, we will decide our next course of action only after getting the notice," informed, president of Sambalpur District Bar Association, Bijitendriya Pradhan.

"Our future course of action will be based on the opinion of every member of the bar association," said Rabi Panigrahi, president of Ganjam District Bar Association.