Bhubaneswar: Sept. 29: Western Odisha lawyers decided to suspend their strike after the state government wrote to the Centre recommending permanent benches of Orissa High Court in both western and southern parts of the state.
Finance minister Prasanna Acharya said: “The chief minister has written a detailed letter to the Union law minister Kapil Sibal underscoring the need for setting up permanent benches in western and southern Odisha.”
However, chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter to the Centre has opened a Pandora’s box. Almost all the district bar associations of western and southern Odisha are now demanding a permanent high court bench in their respective district headquarters. Naveen’s letter, while mentioning the regions where the bench should be set up, remained silent about its the exact location.
Sources said the government wanted to wash its hands off as far as exact location of the bench was concerned having experienced a similar controversy in the past over the Western Odisha Development Council headquarters.
The chief minister’s letter also invited sharp criticism from different quarters with many questioning the need for him to rush to a decision without waiting for the report of Justice C.R. Pal Commission.
“The announcement has come a rude shock to us,” said Niranjan Panda, Balasore Bar Association chief.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Justice Pal said: “I am yet to receive any communication on the matter. I will seek details from the government on the recommendation made to the Centre. The terms of the recommendation are necessary for the commission to proceed further with its inquiry. If the state government has limited its recommendation to western and southern Odisha without defining the areas for the benches, then the Commission will find it difficult to proceed and record a definite finding.”
Orissa High Court Bar Association secretary Janmejaya Katikiya said: “We are greatly disappointed as we were not given any inkling about the government’s recommendation to the Centre for high court benches in western and southern Odisha during our meeting with the chief minister yesterday. The general body will meet tomorrow to take a call on the issue.”
Convener of the Central Action Committee of the All Western Odisha Bar Association Ashok Dash said: “We will continue to boycott the civic polls till the establishment of high court bench.”