Permanent HC Bench: Western Odisha Lawyers Seek CM’s Intervention 

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Bhubaneswar: Reiterating their demand for a High Court bench in Western Odisha, a 15-member delegation of the Central Action Committee of the Western Odisha Lawyers’ Association met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Monday and urged his early intervention.

Briefing media after the meeting, convener of the committee, Ashok Das said that neither the state government nor the Centre has taken any tangible step to set up a permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha since 2014.

“We urged the Chief Minister to constitute a high-level committee to take up the issue with the Law and Justice Ministry. The Chief Minister asked us to write a strongly worded letter to the Centre on this issue and take necessary steps for the setting up of a permanent High Court bench,” Das added.

“We told the Chief Minister that the Centre can frame specific rules for the formation of a permanent High Court bench in Odisha. The Centre can pass a bill to this effect in the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament,” spokesperson of the Central Action Committee, Sureswar Mishra said.

Stating that a strong political will is necessary for setting up of a permanent HC bench, he said it is the responsibility of the Odisha MPs to ensure that a debate on this issue is started in the Parliament and a bill is passed in the ongoing session.

Sambalpur BJD MLA Dr Raseswari Panigrahi, who had accompanied the delegation, said the Chief Minister had written a letter to the Centre in September 2013 to accept the proposal for a permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha.

In reply to his letter, the Centre had sought a clarification from the Orissa High Court with some conditions. However, neither has the High Court given any clarification nor has the Centre taken any follow-up action till date. In this connection, the committee members had met the Chief Minister and requested him to send a reminder to the Centre.

Talking about the issue, state BJP leader and the party’s National Secretary, Suresh Pujari said the state government should submit a composite proposal to the Centre on the expenses involved in the setting up of a permanent High Court bench and its recurring expenses in the appointment of judges and employees and the areas which would come under the jurisdiction of the bench. Acting on the proposal, the Centre will take the necessary steps.

The Congress, on the other hand, said this is a political gimmick of the BJD government.

“It is not surprising that the Chief Minister plays such politics when elections are around the corner. He should refrain from such politics and take necessary steps in the setting up of a permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha and another bench at Jeypore in South Odisha,” senior Congress leader and chief whip of the Opposition Tara Prasad Bahinipati told mediapersons here.

Notably, the state government in a letter to the Centre in September 2013 had proposed to set up a permanent High Court bench each in the western and southern Odisha. On receipt of the letter, the Centre in October had sent a letter in this connection to the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.

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