Cuttack, July 11: Judicial work at Orissa High Court as well as at all the subordinate courts of Odisha was paralysed today as lawyers abstained from work to protest against the Centre’s proposal to regulate law studies through the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011.
The courts were open and judges came for the hearings, but no lawyer pleaded any case. Legal proceedings were disrupted and several litigants were affected.
Among other cases, the court could not proceed with former minister and senior Congress leader Sarat Rout’s petition challenging the election of state finance minister Prafulla Ghadei from the Sukinda Assembly constituency over three years ago.
A high court source said: “A single-judge bench was to consider the election petition on merit without deleting any portion.”
“We have not attended court work in response to the nationwide call given by the Bar Council of India to abstain from work on July 11 and 12 and observe these as protest days against the central government’s interference with legal education through the recently introduced Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011,” said Piyush Mishra, secretary of the High Court Bar Association.
In Cuttack, apart from the High Court Bar Association, the Criminal Court Bar, Civil Court Bar, Board of Revenue Bar Association, State Administrative Tribunal Bar and Consumer Redressal Commission and Forum Bars ceased work.
“The response was cent per cent as all the 142 bar associations across the state participated in the nationwide protest and around 46,000 lawyers abstained from court proceedings in protest against the Centre’s proposal to regulate law studies through Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011,” said Gopal Krushna Mohanty, the chairman of Odisha State Bar Council. He said lawyers burnt effigies of Union human resources development minister Kapil Sibal.
“The council strongly condemns the Centre’s attempt to encroach upon the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, with a view to use the functions and duties of elected bodies comprising more than 17 lakh advocates in the country,” the state bar council chairman said.