Prohibitory orders clamped in Odisha’s Sambalpur town

Bar Council of India suspends license of 29 lawyers for 18 months after strike for establishment of permanent bench of Orissa HC had turned violent.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in parts of Sambalpur town on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, in view of violence sparked off over lawyers’ strike for the constitution of permanent bench of Orissa High Court in western Odisha districts.

Extensive security measures have been taken in a bid to prevent rerun of ransacking and violence that was witnessed in Sambalpur town on Monday, December 12, 2022.

As many as 21 platoons of police have been deployed in town while 17 of them have been kept in readiness alone in court premise to prevent any untoward incident.

“We will mobilise further force if situation warrants,” said B. Gangadhar, Sambalpur Superintendent of Police.

After the violence on December 12, the Bar Council of India suspended license of 29 advocates, who participated in strike for a period of 18 months citing gross violation of professional conduct and etiquettes. The BCI has also suspended all members of Sambalpur District Bar Association till further orders.

Last month, the Supreme Court had found no merit in the demand saying Odisha was not such a big State for having a permanent bench outside High Court at Cuttack.

In an affidavit submitted to SC, Registrar of Orissa HC submitted that several Bar Associations of State of Odisha continue to abstain from work and have indulged in boycott and picketing during the month of October, 2022 and also in November, 2022. The judicial work in least 20 districts continued to be hampered in the month of October, 2022 and 3216 cumulative judicial working hours have been lost.

As per affidavit, the District Judge, Sambalpur intimated that members of the District Bar Association, Sambalpur staged a picketing on demand of establishment of the permanent Bench of Odisha in Western Odisha and even refused to attend a meeting called by the District Judge.

The SC order had apparently not gone down well with the agitating lawyers who intensified their agitation by involving people from all walks of life. The strike turned violent after chamber of district judge was ransacked on Monday. Subsequently, 12 lawyers were arrested for their involvement in the violence. Nine of them were sent to jail after their bail pleas were rejected.

The Apex Court had directed to provide foolproof arrangements for ingress and egress of not only the judicial officers but all willing members of the Bar and the litigants who would be entitled to contest their own proceedings.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka had expressed its dissatisfaction over violence and directed State police to bring the situation under control, otherwise the court would be forced to direct deployment of paramilitary force in Sambalpur.

The Sambalpur SP said the police would take action against any person would violate three-tier security layer round the district court.

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