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The Orissa High Court had initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against bar associations in the state for court boycotts over the last six months.
A Full Bench of the Orissa High Court headed by Chief Justice KS Jhaveri along with Justices Sanju Panda, SK Mishra, CR Dash, AK Rath, Biswajit Mohanty, BR Sarangi, D Dash, S Pujahari, Biswanath Rath, SK Sahoo, Pramath Patnaik, KR Mohapatra, and AK Mishra initiated the proceedings after reports submitted by district judges and the High Court Registry.
The reference to the High Court in this regard states,
“In view of continuous strike and cessation of Courts work by the Bar Members in some parts of the State including the High Court thereby obstructing the administration of justice and in view of the number of decisions of the Supreme Court on this issue, the matter is required to be considered in judicial side.”
In an order passed today, the Bench issued notice to the Chief Secretary of the Odisha government, the Principal Secretaries of the Home and Law Departments of the state government, the Chairman of the Bar Council of India, and the Chairman of the Odisha State Bar Council. Notice has also been issued to the office bearers of 68 bar associations across the state, including the Orissa High Court Bar Association.
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.
In May, another resolution was passed calling for lawyers to boycott the courts of Chief Justice Jhaveri and the two seniormost judges of the High Court for recommending lawyers who are not regular practitioners before the High Court for elevation as High Court judges.
Back then, a committee constituted by the High Court Bar Association had met the Chief Justice, who told the delegation that he had recommended the names of those lawyers who were approved by the other two judges of the Collegium.
It was further informed by the Chief Justice that the said recommended lawyers had appeared before him during the last six months, and were members of the High Court Bar Association. They had adequate cases in the Orissa High Court and considerable income as required by law, the Chief Justice had stated.
However, talks between the Bench and the Bar bore no fruit, with the High Court Bar Association passing another resolution on June 17. This time, the Bar decided to extend the boycott of the courts of Collegium judges till June 26.
A delegation of the Bar Association met Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi along with Collegium judges of the Supreme Court and the Union Law Minister at New Delhi.
This month, 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. While doing so, the Collegium remitted nine proposals to the Orissa High Court, including the names of three judicial officers and six advocates.
This resolution did not go down well with the Bar, which resolved to resume its strike yesterday.
Owing to these frequent strikes, a reference was made to the High Court to deal with the issue on the judicial side. This led to the constitution of the Full Bench which has now initiated contempt proceedings against the lawyers.
The matter will be taken up next on October 21.
Read the order: