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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Lawyers threaten to stage protest

Cuttack, Feb. 27: Lawyers in Odisha have given the state government a 10-day ultimatum to meet their demand for an amendment to the Orissa Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 1987, or face a state agitation.

The lawyers are demanding amendment making government grant on a par with their contribution per annum mandatory and enhancement of the cost of welfare stamps from Rs 5 to Rs 15.

The act, brought in by the Odisha government, had primarily aimed to provide retirement and other benefits to the advocates on cessation of practice. But, no government patronage has followed over the past 25 years. Consequently, the fund has constituted only of the lawyers’ contribution by way of entry fees (Rs 2,000) at the time of entry into the scheme and buying welfare stamps of Rs 5 value.

Chairman of the Odisha State Bar Council Gopal Krushna Mohanty said lawyers across the state would take the agitation path again if the amendments were not incorporated by March 8.

Around 47,000 lawyers ceased work on November 8 and 9 last year, demanding the amendment. In the second phase, the council had planned to gherao MLAs on the first day of last year’s winter session of the Assembly.

Talking to The Telegraph today, Mohanty said the council deferred the lawyers’ agitation by three months after the government had assured them to amend the act by the next Assembly session.

“We are giving the government 10 days to carry out its assurance or face a statewide lawyers’ agitation that will paralyse court proceedings,” Mohanty said.