Shutdown in Guntur for high court bench


Hyderabad : The agitation to demand an Andhra Pradesh high court bench between Guntur and Vijayawada intensified Wednesday with a shutdown in Guntur district.

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The shutdown, called by lawyers and supported by all political parties, evoked good response.

Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed while few vehicles were seen on the roads in Guntur and other major towns in the district, about 300 km from here.

Lawyers under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC) came on the streets in Guntur, Bapatla, Narsaraopet and other towns, appealing to the people to observe the shutdown.

The protesters stopped few buses of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corp (APSRTC) and private operators.

Student groups declared their support to the protest by lawyers. Nagarjuna University students boycotted their classes, demanding the high court bench.

The lawyers in Guntur and Vijayawada have been on protest, boycotting courts and staging hunger strikes for one month, demanding the high court bench. Guntur is 30 km from Vijayawada.

JAC convenor and Guntur Bar Association president D. Samuel John told reporters they would intensify the agitation if the government failed to respond positively to the demand.

Claiming that their demand was justified, John pointed out that this was envisaged in the Gentlemen’s Agreement reached at the time of formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956.

“The high court bench will drastically reduce the number of cases pending with the high court and will provide justice to the people of coastal Andhra at their doorsteps,” he said.

The JAC leaders claimed that majority of litigants in the high court were from coastal Andhra and they face a lot of hardships in travelling to Hyderabad.

They want the government not to link their demand with the report of Srikrishna committee, which is looking into demands for and against separate statehood to Telangana. The Srikrishna committee is expected to submit its report to the central government by Dec 31.

Law Minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana has assured the agitating lawyers that the state would take up the demand with the central government.

He said the demand for a high court bench between Guntur and Vijayawada was justified but since the issue does not fall within the purview of the state government, it is for the high court, Supreme Court and the central government to take a decision.

The demand for a separate high court bench is significant in the backdrop of the movement for separate Telangana state again gathering steam.