The Opposition Congress and the BJP on Wednesday slammed the State Government for the current impasse in Western Odisha districts due to bandh call given by All-Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA), demanding a High Court bench.
Expressing concern over non-functioning of Government offices in 10 Western Odisha districts due to 24-hour bandh call given by AWOBA, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said the Government is neither talking to the representatives of the bar associations nor taking the Opposition parties into confidence.
“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has never consulted the Opposition parties nor called an all-party meeting on important issues during the last 13 years,” Singh said. Members of the Western Odisha Bar Associations are abstaining from work during the last three days of every month for the last four years on the issue of a circuit bench of the High Court. The Government apathy has forced them to take recourse to agitation. The Government is not taking up the issue with the Centre even after an assurance from the Union Law Minister to consider the demand, he said.
Making a statement in the Assembly, which discussed the issue through an adjournment motion, the Chief Minister said the Government is sensitive to the demand and had recommended the case several times to the Orissa High Court.
The Government had made a reference to the State Election Commission seeking clearance for holding discussion on the issue with the agitating lawyers. The State Election Commission, however, clarified that discussion on the subject at this stage will violate the model code of conduct, which is in force for ULB elections.
“We are once again moving the State Election Commission to allow the State Government to receive a delegation from the Central Action Committee (CAC) to discuss and resolve the present stalemate,” Naveen said. The Chief Minister appealed to the members of the CAC of the AWOBA to call off their strike and allow normal functioning of Government offices. “I assure this House that as soon as the urban elections are over and the restrictions imposed by the model code of conduct are lifted, I will call the representatives of the CAC for a discussion in the first week of October to address the issue.”
Earlier, replying to an adjournment motion, Law Minister Maheswar Mohanty said the State Government had requested the High Court several times for establishment of circuit benches of the Orissa High Court at Berhampur, Sambalpur, Balangir and Bhubaneswar.
The High Court, however, turned down the proposal. The Government has requested the Justice C R Pal Commission to send its recommendations on the issue at the earliest.