Lawyers threatened to go for a west Odisha bandh from May 8 in case their demand was not fulfilled by May 7. As the lawyers of Sambalpur sat on dharna in front of the office of the IGP (NR), demanding Collector Mrinalini Darswal’s arrest besides a judicial probe.
On the otherhand members of the Odisha High Court Bar Association on Monday could not decide whether to continue their boycott of courts or resume work after they discussed the report of the association’s fact-finding team on the Sambalpur Collector-lawyers row. Instead, the association’s executive body suggested a reassessment of the situation again on Tuesday.
As the air of confusion continued, the lawyers of all courts, including the High Court, also boycotted the court proceedings for the fourth day on Monday.
Reports reaching here also indicated that the judicial and administrative courts in many other parts of the State remained paralysed as lawyers stayed away from the courts.
“We are going to take a decision on Tuesday afternoon regarding our next course of action after meeting the members of the Sambalpur Bar again on Monday night,” said OHCBA president Jayant Das, who has already arrived at Sambalpur along with several other office-bearers of the association to hold parleys with their Sambalpur counterparts.
Das said the necessity of a reassessment of the situation arose when the members of the western Odisha Bar associations came up with a fresh demand insisting on the arrest of Sambalpur Collector Mrinalini Darswal. The demand for a judicial probe into the whole affair was already there since the beginning, he said, adding that the OHCBA discussed the report of the fact-finding team and a general body meeting of the association would be held at 1.30 pm on Tuesday.
The dharna brigade at the IG office was led by women lawyers demanding the transfer and arrest of Darswal. “The collector had misbehaved with the lawyers and used abusive language for them,” said Pushparani Mohapatra, a lawyer of the Sambalpur Bar Association. “The Crime Branch inquiry is not acceptable. We demand judicial inquiry into this matter,” she said.
On the other hand, chairperson of State Women’s Commission Jyoti Panigrahi has started inquiring into the April 23 conflict. She met the lawyers and also the Collector on the day to note their statements.
During her discussion with the representatives of the Sambalpur Bar Association, Panigrahi urged for a way to solve the stalemate in the district.
President of Sambalpur District Bar Association Pramod Rath said, “Lawyers were arrested on the basis of the complaint lodged by the Collector. We now want action on our complaint.”