MLAs from western Odisha demand permanent high court bench, in the Assembly on Tuesday. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur, Aug. 20: The Assembly today witnessed uproarious scenes over setting up of a permanent high court bench in western Odisha.
Major political parties, including the BJD, have decided to boycott the forthcoming urban polls in the districts of Jharsuguda, Bargarh and Deogarh.
Earlier, leaders cutting across political affiliations in Sambalpur had announced their decision not to take part in the polls in support of their demand for a separate bench.
Today was the first day of filing nomination papers and none was filed in the three districts. The BJD candidates, however, have submitted their poll papers at Padampur notified area council in Bargarh district.
Lawyers and social activists in Sambalpur did not allow the district administration and the courts to function by picketing outside the offices.
In the Assembly today, the Congress and the BJP stalled the House proceedings. While the BJD members remained silent inside the House, MLAs from western Odisha sat outside the Assembly in support of their demand.
Later, the BJD MLAs called on chief minister Naveen Patnaik and urged him to recommend to Orissa High Court to reconsider the matter. Naveen is said to have expressed his inability to do so at the moment as the model code of conduct for urban polls was in force. He assured them that the government would consider the demand once the elections were over.
Senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said: “It’s good that the BJD MLAs have extended support to the agitation. If they are really serious and finds the chief minister adamant, they should quit the party. They should not fool the people.”
Mishra said the then Union law minister, Veerappa Moily, during his visit to Sambalpur in 2010, had stated that the Centre would consider the decision to set up a high court bench if the state government had made a formal recommendation.
Elections are being held at 32 municipalities, 58 notified area councils and the Berhampur Municipal Corporation. The voting will be held on September 19.
State Election Commissioner Ajit Kumar Tripathy admitted that nomination filing was affected in some of western Odisha districts due to the lawyers’ agitation.
The state government had set up a commission of inquiry, headed by Justice C.R. Pal, in 2008 to examine the demand. However, the commission is yet to submit a report.
The Assembly witnessed a series of adjournments as the Congress and BJP members occupied the Well and some of them were even seen trying to climb onto the Speaker’s podium to disrupt the proceedings.
Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh wanted the House to immediately take up a discussion on the agitation.
When Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat proceeded with the question-answer business, the Congress members rushed to the Well shouting slogans.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kalpataru Daslater expressed the government’s eagerness to hold discussion on the Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion.