Talks fail to resolve deadlock over HC bench in W Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The impasse over permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha still continues. Talks between the 23-member Central Action Committee spearheading the agitation for setting up a permanent bench of High Court in Western Odisha and the State Government came a cropper as the CAC rejected chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s assurances on their twin demands.
 
During the talks, the CAC demanded the CM to announce the immediate scrapping of Justice CR Pal Commission in the floor of the Assembly. The CAC further put forward its demand that the Assembly should adopt a resolution on setting up the HC bench in Western Odisha and the same should be intimated to the Centre.
 
The state government did not accede to the demand for scrapping the Justice Pal Commission. Instead, the CM told the delegation that Justice Pal would be requested to submit its report within next two months. On the demand for intimating the Centre, the CM said such a missive would be sent to the Centre after consulting constitutional experts.
 
Ashok Das, convenor of CAC said, “We had hoped that the CM would respect the 50-year-old struggle of western Odisha and make concrete announcements. The CM’s statement is full of contradictions. We are not satisfied with the CM’s remarks”.
 
Another senior CAC member said, “The CM read a prepared statement. It seems the statement was prepared before the talks commenced. We reject the statement of the CM and the agitation would be intensified in the coming days.”
 
Addressing the media, the CM urged CAC to withdraw its agitation and allow normalcy to be restored so that government offices in western Odisha can function without any impediments.
 
With the talks between the state government and the CAC coming a cropper, the fate of the urban polls in western Odisha also hangs in the balance. As the official deadline for filing nomination papers ends on Saturday, it’s uncertain whether people of western Odisha can meaningfully participate in the ULB polls or not. The HC Bar Association had already resorted to a 1-day cease-work against the “undemocratic” nature of CAC’s agitation.