In an unprecedented move, a Full Bench of the Orissa High Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognizance of the frequent strikes and cessation of court works by lawyers in various courts of the State, including the High Court, and issued notices to all the 68 bar associations of the State in this regard.
Notices were issued to the State Chief Secretary and the Secretaries of Home and Law Departments as well.
Observing that the frequent strikes by the advocates and cessation of court works are nothing but obstructing the administration of justice, the full court, headed by Chief Justice KS Jhaveri and comprising all the 13 other puisne judges, also issued notices to the Chairmen of the Bar Council of India and the Odisha State Bar Council questioning as to why steps shall not be taken for violation of the Supreme Court guidelines.
All the respondents were asked to file their replies by October 21; and the High Court Registry was directed to list the matter again on that day for further hearing.
Earlier in the morning, the Full Bench assembled to take up the criminal contempt petition initiated by the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court in which the State of Odisha, the Bar Councils and the Bar Associations of the State were arraigned as respondents.
Notably, the members of Orissa High Court Bar Association are currently on strike since Monday. They are protesting against the selection of a New Delhi-based Odia advocate as a judge of the High Court. The lawyers had earlier also boycotted the court of the Chief Justice for several days on the same issue. Last year, judicial activities in the entire State were also paralysed for months together due to lawyers’ strike.
Besides the strike by High Court lawyers, members of several bars, particularly in the western and southern parts of the State, are staging relay strikes and hartals for years together, each demanding permanent Benches of the High Court in their respective districts.