Any chance of establishing Orissa High Court bench at Sambalpur lost with conduct of agitating lawyers, now: Supreme Court


New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, December 14: The Supreme Court on Wednesday took a dim view of the unruly agitation carried out by lawyers in Samblapur who have been demanding a permanent bench of the Orissa High Court in the district and noted that even if there was some possibility, that is lost now with their conduct.

“There is no hope for the formation of a bench. Even if there was some possibility, that is lost now with their conduct,” said a bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and AS Oka.

The Court also came down heavily on Odisha DGP and IG, Sambalpur (northern range) who appeared before it through video conferencing for failing to carry out their duty to maintain law and order and asked why lawyers were being molly-coddled.

The order came in light of video clips which showed the violent protests of lawyers, who went to the extent of barging into courtrooms, including the Sambalpur District Judge and damaging properties. We are of little doubt that it is an abject failure of police.

“We have put it to them that if they are incompetent to handle it we will get paramilitary force,” the court noted.

“There is a report of the DGP of the action taken. Let us say it is the police’s job to control law and order, they do not need any direction from us on what to do. Complete peace and functionality of the court has to be maintained,” the bench said.

Further, office-bearers of all bar associations that were agitating were issued notices of contempt of court by the top court. The Court was hearing an application concerning the protests by lawyers in the State since September 28 over establishment of HC benches.

The Court also noted that the issue of setting up regional benches of the High Court may have become obsolete to some extent, in light of the measures taken to incorporate technology into the judicial process.

“There is no question of setting up Benches. The passage of time and use of technology has made the demands obsolete. The shifting or creation of High Court benches cannot be done with such whimsical demands. We are putting this in the order to foreclose the issue. We are informed that from any district court one can file a case in High Court and appear virtually,” the court noted.

The Court also strongly condemned the endeavour of the striking lawyers for burning the effigy of State’s Advocate General and browbeating the members of the National and State Bar Council.

The Court, however, did not dispose of the case and clarified that it would continue to monitor the status of investigation and action against erring members of the bar and posted the matter for further hearing on February 6.

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