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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: Amid unrelenting agitation that has affected functioning of courts and government offices over establishment of a permanent High Court bench in the State, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today blamed the State government for dilly-dallying over the issue by trying to pass the buck to the Centre.

Pradhan said, "The State government had constituted Pal Commission to suggest a place and other requirements for a bench, but till now, the government is yet to submit the particulars. Instead the Odisha government is trying to shirk the responsibility by transferring the obligation to the Centre."

The union minister's comments came just a day after the State government earmarked Rs 5 crore in its interim budget 2019-20 for setting up a HC bench. It may be mentioned that CM Naveen, in his letter to the centre, had mentioned that there is adequate justification for the establishment of permanent benches of Orissa High Court in the Western and Southern parts under the criteria laid down by the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission.

However, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said that the centre has repeatedly clarified that the State government must first identify the region where it wants to establish the HC bench and then only the Centre will take further steps.

However, responding to Pradhan's criticism, Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi said, "It is the responsibility of the Central government to pass the proposal for setting up HC bench in its Cabinet and after consultations with the Orissa High Court, it should move forward in this direction. But instead of doing that, the Centre is putting the onus on the State government. If he (Pradhan) who is a Central Cabinet minister had true concerns for Odisha, he could have executed the proposal for establishing the bench."

Meanwhile, welcoming the decision to allocate Rs 5 cr for establishment of a HC bench, senior member of Central Action Committee of Western Odisha Bar Association, Sureswar Mishra said the move by the government is a step forward but it is not enough.

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