Judicial activity across State grinds to halt

The conflict between the Collector and the Sambalpur District Bar Association got more complicated on Friday with judicial activities across the State coming to a grinding halt as lawyers abstained from judicial and administrative courts all over the State, including the High Court following a call given by the Odisha High Court Bar Association.

While an eight-member Crime Branch team led by SP Ramesh Behera arrived here on Thursday to begin probe into the incident and a fact finding team of senior advocates from the HC Bar also landed to inquire into the matter and place the report before the bar council, Collector Mrinalini Darswal’s appeal to the State Commission for Women for justice has made the situation inextricable for all parties in the controversy.

The fact finding team met the Press and said they would continue boycotting the courts including the high court till the Collector is arrested. “In place of the Crime Branch inquiry, we demand judicial enquiry,” said Jayant Das, president of the High Court Bar Association. Das said if, in course of the inquiry, the fact finding team would get any confirmed information that the advocates have misbehaved with or manhandled the Collector, they would also not hesitate for action against such advocates. The advocates here apprised the fact finding team of the entire episode that took place on Monday, specifically the rude words used by the collector. The team held discussions with all stakeholders over Monday’s unsavoury incident.

The Crime Branch team began investigating into the incident in which at least three police complaints were filed, including one filed by the district Collector, Mrinalini Darswal. They met the SP, Additional SP, the Collector, a few local police officers and recorded their statements. “We will make spot visit on Saturday,” said the SP. “We will also meet the office bearers of the District Bar Association,” he informed.

The officers association that resorted to pen-down protesting the attack on the sub-registrar and the Collector withdrew the agitation on the day as per the decision of the steering committee meeting. “We will resume work from Saturday but with black badges to protest atrocity on government servants by advocates,” said the association leaders,” said ADM of Sambalpur MC Bariha who is also president of the OAS Officers’ Association.

Meanwhile, the Collector has filed an appeal before the State Commission for Women over the atrocities and misbehavior from few advocates of Sambalpur, requesting the chairperson to investigate the case and give her justice.

On the other hand, lawyers across the State abstained from courts on the day in response to the call given on Thursday by the apex body of the lawyers in the State to stay away from court work till Monday in protest against what they called ‘inept handling of the Sambalpur issue by the State Government’, among other things.

“According to reports, lawyers across the State heeding our call, did not attend any of the judicial or administrative courts on the day,” informed HC Bar Association secretary Piyush Mishra.

“Courts shall remain closed for next two days on account of Lawyers’ Day and Sunday and our next course of action shall be decided on Monday morning after evaluating the report of the fact finding team of lawyers, currently visiting Sambalpur,” Mishra informed.

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