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Odisha Not Such A Big State” : Supreme Court Disapproves Of Agitating Lawyers’ Demand For High Court Benches

Cuttack:The State of Odisha is not large enough to merit the demand for the constitution of permanent benches outside Cuttack, the Supreme Court of India said on Monday. A Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka was dealing with the problem of lawyers abstaining from work in several districts of Odisha over a long-standing demand for a permanent bench of the Orissa High Court in the western part of the state, at Sambalpur.  While Issuing a slew of directions to resolve the deadlock, including suspending the recalcitrant lawyers and taking strict action against the district bar associations to which they belonged, Justice Kaul also expressed concern over the intensifying demand for more permanent benches of the High Court.

Justice Kaul exclaimed, “What is the core issue? That every district wants a High Court instead of a district court? How big is the state?” He added sarcastically, “Why not raise a demand for one High Court outside each house?” “It is nothing but a display of ego to demand that a High Court bench be constituted at your doorsteps. You can have district judiciary at your doorsteps, but not a High Court. This cannot be done. Odisha is not such a big state,” the Supreme Court judge remarked.

When a counsel for one of the district bar associations offered to explain the historical background that formed the basis of the demand, Justice Kaul sharply countered, “There may be historical background. States have been merged, states have been created. But look around the country. How many states have multiple benches of the High Court?” In this connection, he pointed out that many larger states like Bihar had only a single bench. “The only reason Maharashtra has three is because of the area. But where are the rest of the separate benches in the country?” the judge asked.

Justice Kaul also pointed out that e-infrastructure could be used to appropriately address the issues relating to accessibility and representation. “But you do not want to avail of these,” he said. On being requested to intervene in this regard, Justice Kaul asked the agitating district bar associations to call off the protests first. “Go back, pass a resolution appealing to each and every member to resume work. Core issue or otherwise, nothing will be heard unless you call off the strike completely,” Justice Kaul warned.


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