Unprecedented scenes were witnessed at the Orissa High Court where 25 platoons of police were deployed apprehending breach of peace as two factions of lawyers sparred over an ongoing strike.
The court had sought police deployment to avert any untoward incident. The deployment was both inside and outside the High Court, which made it look like a police barrack. The police force was armed with tear gas, water cannons, etc.
Lawyers, some of them affiliated to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legal cell, had declared their intent to resume work breaking the two-month old agitation. The pro-strike group of the Bar Association was bent on preventing them.
There was palpable tension since morning as both factions gathered in numbers.
The jostling at the gate and inside the premises of the court commenced as soon as the advocates who wanted to enter were prevented by the rival faction. A lawyer Asim Amitab Das who belongs to the BJD legal cell was manhandled.
Two policemen and a youth were also attacked by the mob as they forcibly entered the court premises.
There was complete chaos at the gate and the premises for several hours with each faction abusing the other.
Four complaints were registered by the police as each side hurled accusations of assault against each other. The Bar Association leaders alleged that ruling BJD had engaged goons to break the strike while the rival faction said ‘outsiders’ in the garb of lawyers had assaulted them.
The High Court Bar Association has been on a strike since 29 August following an incident at Cuttack in which a lawyer DP Patnaik was assaulted by policemen.
The Bar Association members said they will hold a general body meeting tomorrow to decide on their action plan.
It may be noted here that former chief justice of India Deepak Misra had two days prior to his retirement ordered that the Bar Association should call off its strike. The Bar had defied the order. A delegation of the Bar had then met CJI Misra and explained their position.
The stalemate continued with the Bar Association demanding stern action against policemen who had assaulted Patnaik.
Since the jails were getting overcrowded , the HC decided to hold camp courts in jails from today.
District and Sessions judges were asked to hold camp courts in prisons and such courts were held at Choudwar, Berhampur and Sambalpur jails today.