24 October 2019
Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Chairman of Orissa State Bar Council and the president of Orissa High Court Bar Association (OHCBA) to appear in person stating that - it had little doubt that the conduct of the lawyers at Odisha. who have been boycotting the Chief Justice's court amounted to contempt.
"We have a little doubt that conduct of the lawyers really falls within the domain of contempt in view of the law enunciated aforesaid. However, before proceeding to take action in that behalf, we deem it appropriate to simply issue notice to explain their conduct," the Supreme Court stated.
The Apex court stated - "We are informed that both in the High Court and practically all districts the working has been brought to a stand still by the strike of the advocates. This means that the access to justice for a common man is not available."
One of the private parties had moved the Supreme Court requesting to transfer its case to another High Court since the Orissa High Court (lawyers' association) is on strike. In that petition the Supreme Court had summoned the Orissa High Court to know what exactly the position is.
Senior lawyer Sibo Sankar Mishra appeared the SC on behalf of Orissa High Court in this matter. "Lawyers in Odisha felt that it was me who initiated everything and I have given wrong facts to the court. They took offence to it and initiated some action against me," Mishra said.
The Orissa High Court Bar Association on Wednesday suspended Mishra from its membership and allowed him seven days time to present his stand. However, the Supreme Court expressing strong disapproval of the steps taken by the OHCBA following its strong views on the ceasework by lawyers in the State, the apex court today ordered a stay on the suspension of Mishra (from the membership of the OHCBA).
Today, the SC further stated – “We will expect the courts to perform their task to the best of their abilities even if the lawyers refuse to assist the courts. The litigants cannot be without access to justice and one wonder if an alternative would have to be explored in adjacent staes for access to justice, if the advocates continue to be on strike."
Speaking to this News Portal, Mishra said, "There is no point in taking action against me, as if am a culprit. The High Court has given me instructions I informed that to the Supreme Court. I being a lawyer was doing my professional duty by representing my client. It stand by the rule of law and am for the institution."
The senior lawyer further added that the grievances need to be settled amicably instead of resorting to a strike and paralysing the justice delivery system. The grievances need to be ventilated in a different way, not by abstaining from duty and damaging the institution.
The Odisha lawyers are opposed to the collegium system for the appointment of high court judges and have been demanding the implementation of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). Last year, the judicial activities in the entire state were paralysed for months altogether due to lawyers' strikes.
Besides the ongoing strike by high court lawyers, members of several bars, particularly in the western and southern parts of the state, have been staging relay strikes for several years together demanding permanent benches of the high court in their respective areas.