High Court Bench: Centre Advises Odisha CM To Consult Chief Justice

Bhubaneswar: The Centre has put the ball back on Naveen Patnaik’s court over setting up of new Benches of Orissa High Court in western and southern parts of the state.
Replying to Odisha Chief Minister’s January 11 letter, requesting for an early decision on the matter, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has advised him to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court and obtain his recommendations.
Balangir, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit tomorrow, has witnessed a series of bandhs and agitations by lawyers demanding a permanent Bench of the High Court. His visit will be keenly watched in light of these developments.

“It is imperative that the Chief Justice of the High Court is consulted and recommendations of Orissa High Court obtained before setting up any Bench(es) of the High Court in the state. The same process is followed in case of all other High Courts,” Prasad said in his reply to Naveen on January 12.

He stressed that the setting up of a Bench of a High Court is to be considered in the light of the recommendations made by the Jaswant Singh Commission and judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court. Naveen, in his letter had said that while the state government was aware of various decisions of the Supreme Court as well as the recommendations of the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission, it was also a fact that the Centre has the authority to decide about the creation of separate Benches of High Court other than the principal seat.

He had also drawn attention of the Union Minister to the “unrelenting” agitation by the people in these regions.

Naveen also referred to his earlier letters in 2013, 2014 and 2018 and said there was more than “adequate justification” for the establishment of permanent High Court Benches in these regions.
Replying to Naveen, Prasad said that once the recommendation of the High Court is obtained, the state government has to provide the requisite infrastructure immediately.
“Therefore, I once again request you to have the necessary consultation with the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Orissa High Court and work out the details of the proposed Bench(es). Once the State Government, along with the High Court, communicate their clear views, the Union Government would take further necessary action in this matter,” he replied.

Earlier on September 10, 2018, Prasad had replied on similar lines, underlining that a decision should be taken as per the recommendations of the commission.

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