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Orissa High Court boycott: SC asks HC Registrar for report on measures taken to allow access to CJ’s court

Orissa High Court boycott: SC asks HC Registrar for report on measures taken to allow access to CJ’s court

Aditya AK

In the wake of the ongoing boycott by state lawyers, the Supreme Court has asked the Registrar of the Orissa High Court to submit a report detailing the measures taken to allow access to lawyers who are willing to appear before the court of Chief Justice KS Jhaveri.

The order was passed in a transfer petition filed by a litigant company whose case is pending before the court of Orissa High Court Chief Justice Jhaveri.

Lawyers in Orissa are currently boycotting the courts of Chief Justice Jhaveri and the two seniormost judges of the High Court.

In view of the “continuous strikes” over the past six months, the Orissa High Court yesterday initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against 68 bar associations, including the High Court Bar Association.

In this background, the petitioner company – Hyderabad-based PLR Projects – filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of its case to the Telangana High Court or any other high court in India.

It is PLR’s case that Coal India Limited passed an Approval Order by which an amount of over Rs. 99 lakh that was due to it was illegally appropriated to another company. It had sought a stay on this order before the Orissa High Court on August 16 this year. The matter was listed before the Bench of Chief Justice Jhaveri.

However, owing to the boycott, no counsel has been allowed to argue before the Chief Justice. The transfer petition states that counsel from other states have also been barred from appearing. In these peculiar circumstances, the petition states, the company has been left without remedy.

After taking into account the events surrounding the issue, the Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph held today,

“We consider it appropriate to call for report from the Registrar of the High Court of Odisha what measures have been made to ensure access to the court of Chief Justice is available for advocates willing to appear.”

The matter will be taken up next on October 22, a day after the suo motu contempt petition is scheduled to be heard by the Orissa High Court.

Before the Supreme Court, the petitioners were represented by Senior Advocate Kavin Gulati and Advocates Sumeet Gadodiya and Isha Singh, along with Advocate-on-Record Kaushik Poddar.

Lawyers in the state first went on strike in April this year, when the Orissa High Court Bar Association passed a resolution registering its protest against certain recommendations made by the High Court Collegium for elevation to the High Court. The lawyers protested the recommendation to elevate lawyers who are not regular practitioners before the High Court as judges.

More recently, the Orissa High Court Bar Association resolved to boycott the courts of the High Court Collegium judges after the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the appointments of judicial officer Bibhu Prasad Routray and Advocate Sanjeeb Kumar Panigrahi as judges of the Orissa High Court.

Read the order: