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Districts hit by strike for bench

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 4: Normal life was disrupted in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada following a 12-hour strike called by the bar association of the respective districts demanding a permanent bench of the high court in Koraput today.

Vehicles remained off road in these districts, while traders downed shutters of their business establishments. Schools and colleges also remained closed.

Koraput Bar Association president Nihar Patnaik said: “A permanent bench of the high court should be set up here as the area is a scheduled area (dominated by tribals). Most people if this region are so poor that they cannot afford to go to Cuttack to seek justice in the high court.”

Lawyers of Malkangiri and Nabarangpur also echoed similar sentiments. “The area has remained neglected since Independence. Setting up of a permanent bench of the high court in the region will help in bringing changes in the backward region of the state,” said Prashant Das, a member of the Malkangiri Bar Association. There are demands from western, southern and northern parts of the state to have separate benches of the high court in their respective localities.

Lawyers from western Odisha are already on an indefinite strike. Though the Ganjam Bar Association demands that a permanent bench of the high court is set up in Berhampur to cater to the needs of the people of the southern part of the state, lawyers of undivided Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada, districts that also fall in southern Odisha, want the bench to come up in Koraput.

Justice C.R. Pal Commission, which is looking into the demands of separate benches of the high court in various parts of the state, believes it will be able to submit its report within the 60-day time frame given to it by the state government.

“About 80 per cent work has been completed,” said an official of the commission.