State commission for women chief moots meet to end lawyers’ agitation

The State Commission for Women chairperson, Jyoti Panigrahi, on Thursday recommended the state government to convene a meeting to resolve the deadlock in wake of the lawyers’ dispute with Sambalpur district collector Mrinalini Darswal.

In her five-page report to chief minister Naveen Patnaik on the collector-lawyers standoff, Panigrahi asked the government to convene a meeting of state Bar Council chairperson, IAS Officers’ Association president, Sambalpur Bar president and Sambalpur collector with director general of police for early solution to the impasse. “The issue needs to be resolved early because due to the stalemate, litigants including women were suffering and the state was facing huge revenue loss,” Panigrahi told TOI.

Panigrahi said she had made three principal recommendations in her report. Besides the suggestion for a high-level meeting, she also suggested to the district administrations to take sufficient precautionary measures to avoid such incidents while highlighting that the Sambalpur collector was not well prepared while going to the agitating lawyers. Thirdly, the SCW chief advised the district administrations to make sufficient police deployment when they apprehend law and order problem.

“I have not made any comment on who was at fault as the crime branch is probing into that matter,” she said.

Meanwhile, functioning of courts and judicial offices has been severely affected in Sambalpur for the last 15 days. No legal work can be done in the town at present, and common people are suffering immensely.

Even the signing of an affidavit for students opting for higher education is almost impossible as notary public and stamp venders are not available in the court area. “I need a residential certificate to apply for my higher studies, but as the lawyers have continued their cease-work, I am not able to get the certificate,” a student of Sambalpur said.

Lawyers, on the other hand, said they knew about people’s plight, but were helpless. They accused the government of giving rise to such a stalemate. “We understand the plight of the people, but we are undone. The government should take appropriate steps to solve the problem immediately. We have decided to continue our agitation till May 19,” general secretary of Sambalpur district bar association Bijitendriya Pradhan said on Thursday.

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