Police-lawyer spat: Lawyers’ strike aggravates crisis in judicial services

Cuttack: Crisis deepened in judicial services across the State with lawyers’ strike continuing for more than one and half months now in Coastal and Western Odisha. The stalling of the courts has clogged jails while cases pile up in large numbers.

The strike has resulted in cancellation of hearing in various cases. Not only the High Court but lower magisterial courts have not been hearing cases.

These delayed cases will be further delayed even after the strike is withdrawn, courts sources said.

Former Judge Hrudaya Ballav Das said, “When the strike is withdrawn, the problem would become unmanageable. As cases have piled up, judge would have tough time dealing with it.”

Meanwhile, situation at the jails is getting worse owing to non-functioning of the courts. Some jails are already over-crowded with prisoners while the number is on the rise at others, jail sources informed.

As per reports, there are over 90 prisons that house around 18,000 prisoners in the state. These prisons are now facing issues of unhygienic conditions, shortage of food and space leaving jail administration concerned.

“As bail orders could not be procured, under-trial prisoners continue to stay in prisons leading to over-crowding in jails,” Gopabandhu Mallick, DIG (Prisons) informed.

On the other hand, advocates continued to boycott the courts demanding arrest of all the accused involved in the brutal assault on advocate Debi Prasanna Pattnaik who was allegedly beaten up by police personnel on August 28 in Cuttack.

“Police arrest common people without hesitation under the threat clauses. What stops them from arresting a person who has committed something illegal?” advocate Kshirod Rout questioned.

The lawyers have been observing cease-work strike since August 29 while the advocates from western regions stopped work from September 4.

While the whole judicial process in Coastal and Western Odisha have come to a standstill, the state government has been complacent towards resolving the issue.

Law Minister Pratap Jena has however declined to comment on the issue.