Naveen Patnaik urges Centre for high court benches in western, southern regions

  • | Friday | 11th January, 2019

BHUBANESWAR: The state government has once again put the ball over establishment of high court benches in Centre’s court with chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday sought an early decision on the issue.Naveen, in a letter to Union law minister R S Prasad , urged to take a call about creation of separate benches of the Orissa high court in western and southern regions in view of the unrelenting agitation by the people.“There is more than adequate justification for establishment of permanent high court benches in the western and southern Odisha. It is high time that the Centre, state government and others should rise to the occasion,” said Mishra, who is also a well-known lawyer.Spokesperson of the Central Action Committee, Sambalpur Sureswar Mishra said meeting of All Western Odisha Bar Association will be held on January 18 to decide the future course of agitation. Also, there is overwhelming public demand over the issue,” said Naveen in the letter.As people of these areas are persistently agitating demanding high court benches, Naveen said such agitations often affected the functioning of courts and other government offices.The state government’s move assumes significance as it came four days prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled rally at Balangir on January 15, where the lawyers have also launched a parallel agitation.Also, it was Naveen’s second letter to the Centre in the last five months over the issue. Though Naveen made a similar demand on September 5, the Union law minister asked the state government to submit a comprehensive proposal in consultation with and consent of the chief justice of Orissa high court for further action.“While the state government is aware of various decisions of the Supreme Court as well as the recommendations of the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission for establishment of the bench of a high court away from its principal seat, it is also a fact that Centre has the authority to decide about creation of separate bench (es) other than the principal seat,” Naveen noted.The chief minister also committed to provide all required resources and infrastructures for establishment of two new benches.While courts in many western districts are closed since last September 5 because of the agitation by various lawyers’ outfit; government offices in the region could not be functioned since November 17 because of the agitations.Even as the state government appealed the agitators to withdraw the agitation promising its commitment for benches in western and southern regions, the agitators observed 72-hour economic blockade in four western districts-- Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Deogarh to press for their demands.Leader of opposition in the state assembly and Balangir Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra criticized ‘lack of willpower’ of both the Centre and state government for establishment of the benches.“It’s unfortunate that neither the Centre nor the state government have given due emphasis to the issue even though justice delivery system has been paralyzed in the regions.

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