Sambalpur Collector Apologizes, Lawyers to Withdraw Strike

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s habitual inertia in matter of memoranda of grievances has this time become a bit of boon to justice-seekers of Sambalpur. The Advocates’ continuous strike, notwithstanding full support to them by the general public, had put the litigants in severe predicament, which, come the next working day, may be over.

The lawyers would end their strike probably on Monday as the District Collector has expressed regrets on Friday.

The IAS Officers Association had appealed the CM to take stern action against lawyers, who, in its view, were “anti-socials”.

But the CM taking no immediate effective step, and thus the district Collector being forced into a fix, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Sambalpur had stepped in to formulate a compromise between her and the lawyers which apparently has clicked.

Withdrawal of the strike would be finalized after the district bar formally approves it and other bar associations who stood in solidarity with the Sambalpur lawyers are consulted over the development.

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High Court Bar Stands with Lawyers of Sambalpur; Massive Loss of Litigant Time Portended

By not transferring the Collector, who controls the Police, the government has patronized to arrest of as many as 18 lawyers of Sambalpur on the basis of her FIR.

We have earlier shown that the acrimony between the Collector and the lawyers of Sambalpur having gone to the Police, the Collector should be transferred from the district immediately as otherwise the police cannot act impartially, as in the system, Collector is the boss over the Police in a district.

In protest against the mass arrest of lawyers, a motorcycle rally hit the streets of Sambalpur to which, as in the Bandh on Wednesday, the general public has extended complete support.

But the agitation against officer-raj has not stayed limited to Sambalpur any more. It has hit the High Court also.

The High Court Bar has held an emergency meeting and resolved to seek action against the Collector for misbehavior with the Sambalpur Bar members. It has called upon all the Bar Associations of Orissa to stop working for a day in solidarity with the Sambalpur Bar and has decided to take stock on Monday to finalize further course of action.

People of Orissa are severely affected by apathetic administration and any credible movement against officer-raj is likely to fetch public support and the lawyers are best equipped to reach the people.

The way the matter proceeds, it portends massive loss of litigant time in whole of the state if the Collector is not transferred immediately. She being the complainant against the lawyers of Sambalpur, it is ethically incorrect to keep her as the Collector in that district, notwithstanding the strong support she gets from the IAS Officers Association.

In public interest, the Chief Minister should stall the hike in registration fee till provisions are made to free the fee fixing from arbitrariness and transfer the lady Collector from the district without any delay so that normalcy could be restored.

Sambalpur Lawyers are Not Anti-Socials; Transfer the Collector First

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In a memorandum to Orissa Chief Minister, the IAS Officers Association (Orissa chapter) has demanded stern action against “anti-socials”, who, according to it, abused the Sambalpur Collector Ms. Mrinalini Darswal because of her official action, when the Collector herself has informed the Police that the alleged abusers are “lawyers”.

Are the lawyers just anti-socials to the combined body of IAS officers?

Let us come to the fact.

The people of Sambalpur are severely disadvantaged by unreasonable hike in land registration fees and as links between the local people and land registration office, the lawyers of Sambalpur had tried to prevail upon the district Collector to ensure relief for the affected public.

Had the Collector been tactful, as sequences suggest, her alleged embarrassment might never have occured.

That the entire city of Sambalpur observed Wednesday a Bandh from morning to evening in protest against misbehavior of the Collector against the lawyers wherein the government employees also participated in expression of solidarity with the lawyers indicates that the Collector was not tactful in dealing with the legal community, that was there to make her apprised of the difficulties their clients and would be clients were exposed to by the unilateral hike in registration fee. Arguments turned heated being precipitated by the Collector’s braggadocio, say eye witnesses.

The registration fee hike was detrimental to economy of the local people. The district Bar Association tried to apprise the district Collector of this. Why didn’t the Collector give them a patient hearing? Why she refused to see how the hike had affected the people? What problem was there for her to assure the lawyers to study the issue; if need be, to have a public hearing to know if the hike is really resented to by the people; if need be, to consult the Government in the matter before coming into a conclusion and to assure the lawyers that she had the ears to hear them when the issue they had raised was in reality linked to their profession?

It seems, the IAS Officers Association has not ascertained the real cause of the precipitation as otherwise, it could have restrained itself from misleading the Chief Minister in this matter in its memorandum.

It is a serious offense against the lawyers community by the combined body of IAS Officers and is designed to subjugate people’s conscious voice to their overlordship which they are enjoying under a Chief Minister entirely dependent on officers.

The Chief Minister should introspect before taking cognizance of the memorandum. If he has any respect for political governance, instead of acting on the IAS Association memorandum, he should study as to why, when the lady collector in her FIR has raised allegations against the “lawyers” to the extent of naming 16 of them, the said association has stressed on only one word i.e. “anti-socials” in its memorandum.

Orissa must reject the mischief of IAS officers that collectively hold “lawyers” as “anti-socials”.

The Chief Minister will be well advised to reject the memorandum with the contempt it deserves for having projected the “lawyers” as “anti-socials” and even before trying to ascertain what really has happened, he should transfer the lady Collector from Sambalpur, so that an approximate correct picture can come to him.

He will have to facilitate an unpressurised investigation on the FIR the lady Collector has lodged in the Sambalpur P.S. And, for this, it is better for him to appreciate that, in a District, the Collector bosses over the Police and when in this case, the Collector herself is the complainant, the Police cannot act freely if she is allowed to boss over it.

So, the Collector’s transfer from Sambalpur immediately is the minimum requirement of the moment.