High Court bench demand: Centre throws ball back into Odisha court

New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar: Amid the ongoing letter-war between Centre and Odisha government over establishment of a permanent bench of Orissa High Court, the Union Law & Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today threw the ball back into the State government’s court.

Responding to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter, Prasad today urged the former to have necessary consultations with the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court to work out the details of the proposed bench (es).

“Setting up of a bench of High Court is to be considered in the light of recommendations made by Jaswant Singh Commission and judicial pronouncements of Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of High Court and its benches. He is responsible for running the day to day administration of the Principal seat of the High Court and any bench (es) of the High Court constituted in the State,” wrote Prasad in his letter to CM.

Further, the Union Minister wrote, “It is imperative that the Chief Justice of the High Court is consulted and recommendations of Orissa High Court obtained before setting up any bench (es) of the High Court in the State. The same process is followed in case of all other High Courts.”

“Once the State government along with the High Court communicate their clear views, the Union Government would take further necessary action in this matter,” Prasad’s letter read.

“The matter which should have been handled through discussions between the Centre and the State is now limited only to letters,” said Congress leader Bibhu Prasad Tarai.

BJP MLA Rabi Nayak said, “If Odisha government is unable to decide where the High Court bench will be established, then it should not be running the government.”

On the other hand, BJD spokesperson, Sameer Dash said that Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik will take appropriate decision on the matter.

The Central Action Committee (CAC) spearheading the lawyers’ agitation over establishment of High Court benches in western and southern Odisha today alleged that it is a ploy by both the Centre and State government.

“Both Centre and the State government are trying to escape by passing the buck to each other,” said CAC spokesperson, Sureswar Mishra.

Earlier, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik had written to Union Law Minister on January 11 demanding an early decision in this regard.

Patnak in his letter had assured the Centre that the State government will provide adequate resources for establishment of HC benches.

“In our view, there is adequate justification for establishment of permanent Benches of Orissa High Court in the western and southern parts of Odisha and the criteria laid down by the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission are also substantially met.

“The views of the Orissa HC on our recommendation have not materialised so far. The State Government is aware of the various decisions of the Supreme Court including the case of Federation of Bar Associations of Karnataka lawyers,” Naveen had written in his letter.