Bhubaneswar, Aug. 24: The impasse over the demand for a separate high court bench in Western Odisha continues as talks between the government and members of the Central Action Committee, which is spearheading the movement, has failed.
During their discussion with chief minister Naveen Patnaik here today, the committee member stuck to their demand and urged the government to immediately announce in the Assembly withdrawal of the C.R. Pal Commission and setting up of the permanent bench.
As the government did not accept the demands, no breakthrough was made and the meeting ended within 20 minutes.
After the meeting, Naveen urged the committee to call off their strike.
Stating that the government was sensitive to the demand, Naveen said: “We have decided to request the commission to submit its report within 60 days. The commission of inquiry has been given extension upto December 31, 2013.”
Making a statement in the Assembly on the issue after the meeting, he said: “The state government has been quite clear in its mind that we must have benches in western and other parts of Odisha.”
Naveen also said the government would consult constitutional experts on the demand of making a recommendation for setting up a permanent high court bench in western Odisha.
The chief minister also said the government’s direct recommendation for setting up of the bench to the Centre was not linked to the submission of the Justice C.R. Pal Commission report. It can be sent even before that, he said.
Soon after the meeting, convener of the committee Ashok Das said: “Chief minister’s statement was contradictory in nature. He did not make it clear regarding setting up of a permanent bench and withdrawal of the Pal commission.”
Another committee member Sureswar Misra said: “It indicates that the statement was prepared before the talks commenced. We will intensify our strike.”
The ongoing agitation has affected the poll process for urban bodies in nine districts. Government offices, municipality and the judiciary continue to remain paralysed for the fifth consecutive day across western Odisha.
In a related development, the Balangir Merchants’ Association today observed a strike to demand that the permanent bench be set up in Balangir. The Rourkela Bar Association also demanded a bench in Rourkela.