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Lawyers Face Action

Sambalpur: The lawyers of Sambalpur, who are on a protest path demanding establishment of a bench of Orissa High Court in this Western Odisha town are facing Police Action.

As many as 16 lawyers were arrested, section 144 CrPc promulgated near the court and 17 platoons of police forces were deployed here.

The District Judge was dragged from his court chamber and the courtroom was ransacked by the agitating lawyers on Monday. The Supreme Court has slammed the lawyers and also Odisha police for violence in court premises.

Sambalpur SP B. Gangadhar said the arrests were made on Monday night and Tuesday on the basis of the CCTV footage and nine of the arrested lawyers were sent to judicial custody after their bail petitions were rejected by the local court.

The SP said more arrests will be made in connection with Monday’s violence after examining the CCTV footage and on the basis of the video clippings of the TV news.

Meanwhile, the District Administration has clamped Section 144 of CrPC at Kacheri Chhak and warned that strong action will be taken if anybody violated the prohibitory orders.

The SP further said 17 platoons of police forces have been deployed to maintain law and order situation and if necessary, more forces will be requisitioned.

A chaotic situation prevailed in Sambalpur court on Monday after public, advocates, members of civil societies and even eunuchs were indulged in a scuffle with the police forces Even District judge Manas Ranjan Barik who managed to enter into his office was forcefully dragged from the chamber as public and advocates entered in large numbers and ransacked the courtroom.

The Supreme Court has taken the incident with all seriousness and asked the DG (Police) of Odisha and IG of Northern Range for personal appearance through VC on Wednesday.

The Apex Court had earlier warned that the licenses of the agitating lawyers could be cancelled if they continued to protest and paralysed the functioning of the courts. But the lawyers did not budge in their stand and resorted to agitation on Monday and prevented the judges from entering the court premises despite heavy police deployment.

Taking strong exception to the vandalism indulged by the striking lawyers, the Bar Council of India has suspended the license of 29 advocates for 18 months with immediate effect and has further suspended all the members of the Sambalpur District Bar Association till further orders.

Unfazed by the police crackdown, the agitating lawyers said the protest will continue and claimed that the vandalism on Monday was the outcome of police excesses.

“Our protest is on and will continue. Yesterday’s vandalism was the outcome of police excesses,” said chairman of the Action Committee of Sambalpur District Bar Association, Pradeep Bohidar.

Politics over the burning issue has also hots up in the State. Supporting the demand of Sambalpur lawyers, Leader of Opposition Jaynarayan Mishra said there is a need for establishment of a bench of the HC in Sambalpur.

“Union Law Minister has already clarified in the Parliament that the State Government has not yet submitted a concrete proposal for establishment of HC bench,” Mr.Mishra said.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said the bench should be established in Bolangir while another Congress lawmaker Suresh Routray said the State Government, Centre, SC and HC should seat together immediately for establishment of HC benches in western Odisha and Bhubaneswar.

“People are facing a lot of problems visiting the HC in Cuttack. The officials in Bhubaneswar are also spending a lot of time visiting the court every day. So, one bench should be established in Bhubaneswar,” Routray said.

However, senior BJD lawmaker Debi Prasad Mishra said blame-game over the issue should be stopped. The lawyers first have to obey the orders of the SC, he said.