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Lawyers protest, litigants suffer

Bhubaneswar, May 4: Litigants in lower courts had to suffer as lawyers in the city struck work in protest against bifurcation of the Bhubaneswar sub-registrar’s office.

The lawyers said they would continue with their strike till May 7 to protest against the government’s decision to set up a new sub-registrar’s office at Chandrasekharpur in addition to the one operating from the premises of the Bhubaneswar courts.

Suchismita Nayak, a resident of Raghunathpur, had come to the court following summons to give evidence in a theft case. But, she had to go back home as the lawyers started ceasework today.

“There was no sign of any protest when I came here today. But suddenly, I came to know that the court proceedings could not be held because of a ceasework by the lawyers. Now, I will have to wait for the next date,” said Nayak.

Many others like her had to suffer for the sudden ceasework decision of the Bhubaneswar Bar Association today.

Protesters of the bar association not only stopped their work, they even locked the main gate of the sub-registrar’s office and did not allow anyone to enter the building.

“I had come to check the status of a plot of land. But, it could not be done today because of the lawyers’ protest. Now, I will have to wait till May 9,” said Suman Sekhar Panda, a resident of Kalarahang.

On April 24, the lawyers had blocked the Cuttack-Puri Highway passing through the city in protest against the government’s decision of creating a Chandrasekharpur branch of the sub-registrar’s office. Chief secretary Bijay Patnaik had then met the lawyers’ representatives and assured them that he would take up the issue with the chief minister.

“Patnaik had asked us to give him seven days’ time. He had also requested us not to resort to roadblock. Though 10 days have elapsed, he had not informed us anything. Besides, we tried several times to meet him but failed,” said Chittaranjan Barisal, secretary of Bhubaneswar Bar Association. He also said a general body meeting of the association today decided to continue with the ceasework till Monday.

On May 8, lawyers from all over the state will observe ceasework to express their solidarity with the lawyers of Sambalpur who have been demanding action against collector Mrinalini Darswal.

On April 4, the government had announced appointment of a sub-registrar for the newly created office at Chandrasekharpur.

At present, three offices — that of the Khurda district registrar, the Bhubaneswar sub-registrar and the Khandagiri sub-registrar — are operating from the Bhubaneswar court premises. The government has decided to set up another sub-registrar’s office near Chandrasekharpur to handle some areas of the Bhubaneswar sub-registrar’s jurisdiction.

Officials in the revenue and disaster management department said the government’s decision was for the better functioning of the office and it would help the people around Chandrasekharpur.

However, the lawyers criticised this logic and said that the government must try to develop proper infrastructure and appoint more officials instead of shifting it elsewhere.

“A sub-registrar’s office near a court is more beneficial for people,” said a protesting advocate.