Naveen seeks steps to resolve W Odisha stir over HC bench

Amid closure of state and central government offices since February in western Odisha to demand setting up of permanent high court bench, Naveen Patnaik urged Centre to expedite process.

Bhubaneswar: Amid closure of state and central government offices since February three in western Odisha to demand setting up of a permanent high court bench, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday urged the Centre to expedite the process of fulfilling the long-standing demand.

"In view of the persisting agitation by the people of both western and southern regions, I would urge upon you to engage with Orissa High Court for an early response based on which I am hopeful that a favourable solution can emerge to fulfil the long-pending demand," Patnaik said in a letter to Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal.

Patnaik`s letter came after ministers and MLAs of western Odisha met the chief minister and discussed the ongoing agitation.

While all offices remained closed in seven districts of Subarnapur, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Boudh, Deogarh, Bargarh and Jharsuguda since February three, members of Sambalpur Bar Association launched relay hunger-strike on February five.

Patnaik had earlier on September 28, 2013 requested Sibal to take steps on establishment of high court benches in western and southern Odisha to meet the aspiration of the people of these two regions.

"I have also conveyed the assurance of the state government for provision of adequate funds and other resources required for establishment of these two benches," Patnaik said in the letter.
Sibal in his reply on October 23 this year informed the state government that the letter had been forwarded to the Chief Justice, Orissa High Court to examine the case.

Sibal had also told the state that further action would be taken by the Centre based on the response from the high court.

However, the state was yet to know the view of high court on setting up benches in the two region of the state.

Meanwhile, the Central Action Committee of western Odisha lawyers said they would examine the state government`s letter before taking any decision on the future course of action on agitation.