A prelude to a Scam to be Discussed

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
This posting is a prelude to a scam to be discussed in my next article.

The posting is positioned on a prime plot of Bhubaneswar that the location map furnished below highlights.

location of illegal cowshed

A few meters away from the Raj Bhawan (Orissa Governors official residence) on the north-western side and Sachivalaya (State Secretariat) on the north side), nearby VVIP/VIP bungalows where ministers to top officials stay, on the second street behind Bhubaneswar Club, and the back street of Bhubaneswar Kala Kendra, is this location where a gowala (milkman) has encroached about half an acre government land operating a huge illegal dairy there to the total detriment of health of the local residents since October 2004. Another gowala had started a small size dairy there which he dismantled in June 2004 due perhaps to objections raised before the Director of Estates. The area remained vacant for a few months till this encroacher stepped in. Below is the picture of the dairy under the present operator taken on 15 November 2004.

gowala nenace 2

This was then many meters distant from where the Autopsy Rd was crossing the Kala Kendra Rd and the cowsheds of the gowala were standing on the 3rd street behind Bhubaneswar Club. He was drying cow dung cakes on the uneven open space lying between the cowshed and Kala Kendra road. The following picture shows the distance of the cowshed from the Kala Kendra Rd and Autopsy Rd crossing.

gowala menace 4

The man seen walking towards the cowshed is former Additional Director of Estates. The picture was taken in the morning on 18 April 2008. On the very same day, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation had started dumping collected debris on this uneven plot to make it level for the gowala to use. The picture below shows how the gowala had started drying dung cakes on unloaded heaps of the debris.

gowala menace 3

And then the encroachment expanded. The gowala having encroached the left side of the Kala Kendra Road from the east, crossed the same to use its right side for drying the dung cakes.

cowshed-4

The picture below was taken this morning. It shows how it has reached the Kala Kendra Road within these years.

as on 29.10.14

And, see below, how free passage on the road has been blocked by high heaps of cow dung.

Road blocked by heap of cow dung 1

This is only one instance. The entire city of Bhubaneswar is afflicted with health hazard by running of such cowsheds by milkmen on encroached prime government plots, despite the Municipal Corporation Act 2003 having banned keeping of cows and buffaloes, goats and sheep.

I will discuss the issue in my next posting.

Court orders Police to register case against former Judicial Officer

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is not always that a court orders the Police to register a cognizable offence case against a former judicial officer. But retired officer of Orissa Judicial Service C.R.Dash is one such person against whom the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (S), Cuttack, in ICC 1001/13, has ordered the Police to take cognizance and register the FIR within 24 hours, which had been gathering dust in the Cantonment Police Station, Cuttack since 3.12.2012.

Samaja gate 1Servants of the People Society, which has illegally occupied the Samaja by using a forged will of Gopabandhu, has transformed the iconic newspaper of Orissa into a crime center, tormenting loyal employees of the newspaper with false and fabricated cases and has resorted to blatant unfair labor practices to keep the workforce intimidated. Labor officials, under pressure from the Chief Minister have sat mum when the illegal management has been trying to destroy the Trade Union of the employees – the Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association (UNEA).

In one such case against the President of UNEA, the said illegal occupiers of the Samaja had appointed a retired Judicial Officer namely C.R.Dash as domestic enquiry officer and had tactfully dragged in a low-paid Machine Helper namely Surendra Behera into where the same officer was holding enquiry into allegations against the President of the Union, Sri Deviprasanna Nayak, on 3.12. 2012 and had forced to depose in their favor as a management witness.

Dash was appointed the enquiry officer on recommendation of Niranjan Rath, on whose allegation the so-called domestic enquiry had been instituted.

He asked Behera to sign on a written, predated document, which under condition of alarm the poor worker had to comply with. The document was dated 1 .12.2012. Dash did not disclose what it was, but disallowed him to write the date under his signature. On the other hand, he prompted Behera to corroborate the management allegations against Nayak. Behera refused to give any false and prompted deposition. But Dash did not bother. He went on dictating the typist the deposition, which Behera had never made and forced him to sit mum till the dictation was over and to sign the typed sheet, after which only he can leave the enquiry hall. Behera panicked, but kept quiet. As the guard grew little inattentive, he rushed out of the room and went to the Cantonment Police Station and filed FIR against the malicious conduct of the Enquiry Officer. In the FIR he apprehended that he may be forced by the Assistant H.R.Manager to sign the paper that the EO had dictated when he should be reporting on normal duty in the night shift. He wanted protection and action against the EO and the A.H.R.M. for criminal conspiracy and act of intimidation.

The corrupt and pressurized police inspector-in-charge did not register the FIR, despite the poor workman running to the P.S. several times. He had to, finally, knock the door of justice seeking direction to the police to take cognizance of the reported offense.

In taking up the case, the S.D.J.M. (S), Cuttack, has observed in his order dated 14.10.14 that, “The alleged offences are cognizable in nature. Hence, I feel it proper, in the interest of justice, that there will be an investigation by the police with regard to the allegation leveled in the complaint”.

And, as such, he has issued orders U/S 156(3), CrPC to the IIC, Cantonment Police Station “to register the complaint petition within 24 hours of receipt of the order and to report compliance promptly”.

And, consequently on 18.10.2014, Behera’s complaint has been registered as FIR No.83 setting on motion Sections 341/294/506/465/468/469 and 34 of Indian Penal Code.

Water Resources Dept is in CM’s hand; Irrigation Project pushed into Ruin

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Deviprasanna on the dam Hilly Orissa is dependent on rain for cultivation. The only solace is availability of water in some locations by jointing two adjoining hills by dams. Dadara Ghati Dam on river Gambharia Nallah in Dhenkanal District is one such irrigation project that I had an opportunity to visit along with distinguished editorialist Deviprasanna Nayak at the end of summer this year.

Ever since water resources department has fallen in the hands of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik this project is lying abandoned. It is pushed into utter ruin due to total lack of maintenance and care.

Pictures will say.

This is the abandoned dam -

the abandoned dam Its junked Board of Silent Feature is indicative of what utter negligence the project is subjected to. This is the Board – Junked board of silent feature   Its office is abandoned. The pictures below would show its pathetic condition. abandoned officeAbandoned office, ruined entrance   Its operation is abandoned. abandoned operation ABANDONED OPERATION 2   It is not in use for years. Nobody takes its care. No attention is paid to its maintenance. Not in use for years   As I stand under the dam, to my left on the State Highway, preferrers of shorter routes from coastal to western Orissa and vice versa are seen speeding away in their vehicles. Ah! If someone could come and see how this great irrigation asset is crying for attention! SCP

PIL envisages access to justice through class action: Bibhu Prasad Tripathy

bptIn an interview, eminent lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy, has told journalist Sugyan Choudhury that Public Interest Litigation is a medium of class action for justice. The interview is published in daily Pioneer, Bhubaneswar edition, on 7 October 2014. Viewed as enlightening to general public in matter of their collective legal right, we prefer to place the entire text in public interest. And, here it is:

What is the relevance of PIL as an instrument of law? Has it served its purpose?

PIL envisages access to justice through class action. Those very large sections of the society because of poverty, ignorance, discrimination and illiteracy had been denied justice for time immemorial and they had no access to justice. The opportunity is not to be denied by reason of socioeconomic or other disabilities. Therefore, the Supreme Court has declared access to justice in matters of fundamental rights. Therefore, the “Little Indians” legal cause can be espoused by any person having no interest in the matter. PIL is not in the nature of adversarial litigation; it is for the purpose of making basic human rights meaningful to the vulnerable sections of the community.

Though initially PIL was a strategic arm of the legal aid movement, today there has been a serious concern about the use and misuse of PILs. There are several blackmail litigations for private objectives or for settling disputes between individual parties in the court in the name of PIL since the term litigant in PIL is not confined to a person who is affected or injured by State action but comprehends a wide class. Today, PIL is filed in many cases having absolutely no real public interest except private profit either for themselves or as a proxy for other or for any other extraneous motivation or for publicity purpose. Persons who describe themselves as ‘public spirited’ and others as ‘social organisations’ or ‘activists’ spring up overnight to canvas issues for oblique reasons.

It is alleged that excess use of PIL results in judicial activism affecting the Legislature and the Executive; is it true?

The courts act as a watchdog for citizens’ rights which ensure that governance is to be carried out according to the Constitutional norms. The courts review the State’s action for promotion of good governance. PIL is an effective instrument of legal services delivery for ensuring administration of justice and Constitutional entitlement of weaker sections. PIL is not a measure of taking over governance itself or a process of supervising or monitoring every State direction. It is a measure involved in governance where fundamental or other rights are infringed or State is demonstrated to be in abuse of power. Now, the judiciary has to be vigilant for discharging the judicial function, but the court has to respect the separation of powers under the Constitution. The power of judicial review is recognised as part of the basic structure of the Constitution. People’s faith constitutes the legitimacy of the court and judicial activism.

What are your considered opinions about the success of PIL as seen in the State of Orissa and West Bengal today?

It’s true that a good number of PILs are filed in the Orissa High Court and the Calcutta High Court, but the bona fide PILs have to be encouraged and the frivolous ones are to be discouraged. The PIL litigants and their lawyers should be made accountable because law is meant for people and not that people are meant for lawyers. Both in Orissa and West Bengal, the Adivasis, Dalits, slum dwellers, street vendors, prisoners, sex workers and physically challenged have no access to the justice delivery system. There are many prisoners who have been falsely arrested and incarcerated for long years.

The provision extended by PIL does not envisage security of a petitioner. What measure can be taken to protect the petitioners serving as Cassandra to the cause of society?

It is true that the whistleblowers in the PIL may face threat from different quarters, but this is not a regular phenomenon. A public spirited person who approaches the court with clean objectives and without any mala fide intention may not face any security problem since people are the biggest security for him. But wherever a genuine PIL petitioner is facing a threat, he may approach the court to provide him security.

Can you please tell us some memorable PIL cases you have handled?

I’m telling the story of Pratap Nayak, a tribal boy, languishing in jail for 10 years despite the High Court’s acquittal order which could not reach the jail authorities in time. Prabir Kumar Das, a human rights activist and a lawyer, filed a PIL seeking compensation of Rs 10 lakh for Nayak for suffering mental trauma. The Orissa High Court disposed of the petition stating that the petitioner had no locus-standi in the case. The case finally went to the Supreme Court where I represented the matter. The apex court directed the High Court to look into the matter and Pratap was not only acquitted but awarded a compensation of `five lakh.

I can tell you the Delhi Noida Flyover PIL case, the Malkangiri Jail case where a prisoner was cooling his heels for lack of a Koya language interpreter and also the Sal forest PIL case where justice was meted out to the petitioners through PILs.
The Supreme Court recently intervened in a matter relating to the siphoning of crores of money in Orissa and West Bengal by chit fund companies and ordered a CBI probe to ensure that the influential people involved do not escape the teeth of law. Thus, PILs are impacting a lot of transformations by removing somnolence from the society and by ushering in an era of affordable justice.

What are your prescriptions for creating awareness towards wider use of PIL?

PIL has to be used by courts in the discharge of their Constitutional obligation to ensure enforcement of right to life and dignity. In a State like Orissa, use of justice delivery system by weaker sections is one of the major challenges. For an Adivasi of Malkangiri, right to food as fundamental right has no meaning because if the fundamental right is violated he cannot approach the High Court by engaging a lawyer. For him, the legal system becomes illusory. Civil society groups and public spirited activists along with some pro bono lawyer need to form a team to protect the interest of the deprived sections. A new social action strategy has to be evolved for institutional support for pursuing the Public Interest Litigation. There should be clarity and bona fide intent in making use of the social action litigation to wipe out the tears from the eyes of the starving population of Orissa that stand deprived of their basic rights and dignity.

Orissa in Quagmire of AIDS; High Court Ruling and Minister’s Order Rot under Red Tapes!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
aids iconOrissa is in Quagmire of AIDS. The Government has not yet studied to what extent it has spread in the State. But the figure must be alarmingly high as the State has failed to stop supply of infected blood through the Blood Banks, despite specific direction of the High Court of Orissa, that had even punished the State Government with Rs.3 lakhs to be paid as compensation in a case where it was established beyond doubts that a boy of only 17 months of age had been infected with this dreaded disease consequent upon receiving transfusion of infected blood supplied by Government Blood Bank, BMC Hospital, Bhubaneswar, on an operation table. The Blood Bank had supplied screened blood; but the virus had escaped detection, as the ELISA method used for screening is not advanced enough to detect HIV in the grey zone or window period.

On elaborate study and research, the High Court of Orissa had ruled in W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009 on 28 July 2011 that PCR NAT method be used in all the Blood Banks to stop supply of contaminated blood to patients, as had happened to the child in the instant case. Mandarins of Health Department, instead of implementing this Order, have kept this judgment subjected to their own judgment!
The following three articles, out of a lot earlier published in these pages, would be of help in understanding the sad phenomenon and to see how the Government of Orissa has criminally neglected the most calling cause of health in the State and how its Health Minister’s assurance to the Assembly to implement the remedial method – NAT, as directed by the High Court, has been rotting under the red tapes of bureaucracy.

The articles are:

1. Shocking Reality: AIDS Being Aided by Government of Orissa,
2. AIDS: A Coterie of Officers use Tricks of Subterfuge against the High Court Order and,
3. ORISSA MATTERS Exposed a Malady that reached a Remedy, thanks to Prasad Harichandan

On relying upon the Minister’s announcement in the Assembly, people had believed that they would soon be saved from threat of Transfusion Transmitted Infections like AIDS. But the Minister’s announcement stayed inconsequential because of political timidity.

Political Timidity

Prasad Harichandan of the Congress party was the mover of the adjournment motion, in reply to which Health Minister Dr. Damodar Raut had announced to adopt NAT for blood screening. Had the announcement been executed, the credit for its implementation might have also gone to the mover of the motion Mr. Harichandan. So it was abandoned. Health Minister Dr. Raut, who had given the assurance to the Assembly to implement the High Court order in phased manner, till his last day in the department, did not give the necessary thrust to implementation of his own announcement on NAT in the Assembly.

New Health Minister’s query

After Election-2014, a new Minister in Mr. Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak took over the charge of Health. A young, energetic, workaholic person, he immediately addressed himself to pending tasks. And, thus he located how the department has slept over the High Court Judgment as well as the assurance given by the Government to the Assembly for adoption of NAT to stop infected blood flowing into unsuspecting patients.

He sent the following “Note” to the Secretary.

ASNayak to S.H.Note Sheet
UOI No. 23/MSHFW, I&PR
Date 19.9.2014
This is regarding implementation of NAT screening method for blood in four centres catering to 6 major blood banks of the State.
The Hon’ble High Court in 2011 in one PIL case filed before it, had passed an order for earliest implementation of NAT. The then Hon’ble Minister, Health and Family Welfare, Odisha had assured on the floor of the house for implementation of NAT in phased manner while answering an adjournment motion on the subject on 01.09.2012. A technical committee constituted by the Government had visited two States i.e. Karnataka & Uttar Pradesh and inspected various centers where NAT was implemented and had given their report.
I am told that SBTC was directed to go ahead for implementation of the project. The major procedure involving financial & technical formalities are also over. The technical expert committee has also given its views on the request of proposals received.
It is a matter of concern why this important decision to implement the direction of Hon’ble High Court has not been operationalized till date.
A detail report in this regard is to be called for at the earliest. A meeting in this regard may also be convened at your level as early as possible to expedite the process.
Sd/-
Atanu
16.9.14
Minister of State (Ind), Health & F.W, I&PR, Odisha

In response to the Minister’s note, the Health Secretary informed him on 20 September 2014 that, “A meeting in this connection was scheduled to 15.09.2014 which could not be held due to sudden demise of the mother of the Director, State Blood Transfusion Council. The meeting has been rescheduled for 29.09.2014”.

Secretary acts a judge over the judgment

What happened on September 29? The meeting was held under chairmanship of the Secretary of Health. But it was nothing but an exercise of equivocations, and attempts to stymie the implementation. And, more intriguingly, it was a game of subjecting the judgment of the High Court to judgment of the Secretary. The Minister should take serious note of it.

Secretary doesn’t bother about Minister’s query

As would be seen from the Minister’s note sheet, he had asked, “Why this important decision to implement the direction of Hon’ble High Court has not been operationalized till date” And, he had called for “a detail report” on the delay and had directed to convey a meeting “as early as possible to expedite the process”.

But, instead of complying with the absolutely appropriate orders of the Minister, the mandarins invented tricks to delay the process.
I quote from the minutes:
After thorough discussion, the following decisions were taken:
i. The fact sheet on NAT needs be prepared and submitted;
ii. The letter may be issued to NAT technology user States to get feedback on NAT technology after implementation of NAT, such as performance of NAT system, transport logistics, review mechanism along with grievance redress mechanism during failure of equipment.

Playing over judicial wisdom

The “fact sheet on NAT” is already with the department, as otherwise, the decision could not have been taken to adopt NAT and call for Tenders. Why then this decision at Para- i? Moreover, the High Court has analyzed the essential necessity of NAT to stop supplying HIV infected blood to unsuspecting patients. The government has only one option; i.e. implementation of the High Court Order.

Where from the mandarins get the mandate to sit in judgment over the judgment of the High Court?

When the bureaucratic decision quoted above in Para- i is nothing but playing over the judicial wisdom of the High Court, the decision at Para- ii is indicative of how casually the mandarins are treating the issue of AIDS that they generate by supplying contaminated blood to the patients on operation tables or for serious diseases that require regular and frequent blood transfusion like Thalassemia, Sickle Cell etcetera.

Luxury of equivocations

The quoted decision at Para-ii above says, “Letter may be issued to NAT technology user States to get feedback on NAT technology after implementation of NAT”. They shall send letters to other States to get feedback on NAT! What a great design to waste time!

After the High Court judgment, the Secretary of the Health Department had deputed a high-level committee of experts to collect physical feedback from States where NAT is in use and the Expert Committee’s report, strongly recommending adoption of this advanced technology to ensure supply of safe blood, is very much in the records of the department. This has also been reflected in the Minister’s note quoted supra. So, why again the decision to send letters to the same States for feedback? Does replacement of a Secretary with a new incumbent renders earlier obtained feedback useless?

Moreover, why this, when the only option left to the Secretary is implementation of the ruling of the High Court in the 2009 case? And the only duty of the Secretary is to tell the Minister as to why the High Court Ruling has not been implemented.

The minutes of the September 29 meeting is more indicative of confusion the bureaucracy is creating. As for example, item b under Para iii wants the firm to give “Tax Details”. The tender notice issued by the department, to which firms have responded, itself has stipulated in its ‘Format’ that the “rate quoted should include all applicable taxes except Odisha VAT, which would be paid as applicable”.

When the respondents to this notice are bound by the ‘Format’ beyond which they cannot go, why this confusion is created in matter of ‘Tax details’? Obviously, the Secretary does not want implementation of the High Court Order and therefore, unnecessary hurdles are created in provision of funds for the scheme in supplementary budget.

To escape blame, a decision has been noted under Para-v, which states, “To roll out the NAT facility in whole State, the tentative budget requirement will be around Rs.23.7 crores. But as per decision, in first phase total budget, requirement was projected at Rs.9.48 crores (as per EFC decision). Thus provision in supplementary budget will have to be made based on requirements”.

This note, juxtaposed with Para-iv that says, “Policy decision should be chalked out”, read with the mischief as discussed in context of Paras- i, ii and iii above, makes it clear that either the bureaucracy is infested with elements that need greasing of palms to make the matter move or the Secretary is too stubborn to yield to orders of the High Court and the Minister. Be it whatever, it is clear that the mandarins in Health Department are not paying attention to the urgency of stopping supply of AIDS generating contaminated blood from Blood Banks in the State.

Health Secretary makes a farce of EFC

The situation is horrific when the meetings taken by the Health Secretary do not bother about soundness of the minutes of the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) held as far back as on 13 December 2013.

“After going through the relevant documents of the Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR) Studies and other related studies papers & documents”, this authoritative body, in its decision No.1 had “approved” the “proposal submitted by the Health and Family welfare Department for implementation of NAT PCR testing method in Blood Banks in the State”. Further “It is decided to be implemented in the three Medical Colleges and Hospitals of the State”, said its 2nd resolution. The Health department has made a farce of this approval of the EFC.

Manners of the mandarins

The following events may help us understand how hazardous to human health are the manners of the mandarins in the Department of Health in Orissa -
1. The High Court of Orissa, shocked to see a 17 month old boy in AIDS by taking blood on the operation table supplied by a Blood Bank of Bhubaneswar, had issued mandatory direction on 28 July 2011 to the State Government to immediately adopt NAT method for blood screening, so as to eliminate every chance for HIV virus escaping detection within window period.

2. The Minister of Health, in replying an adjournment motion on 1 September 2012 on the issue of non-implementation of the High Court ruling, declared in the House that the Government would implement the Order in phased manner with utmost quickness.

3. Following the Minister’s announcement, an expert committee was sent to various States that use NAT method for field study and feedback and the said Committee submitted its report recommending NAT as the most efficient method for ensuring safe blood to the patients that led the Health Department to arrive at a decision to adopt NAT.

4. The Finance Department accorded necessary approval vide the EFC resolution on 13 December 2013.

5. Request of Proposal was issued through ads on 20 February 2014 and offers obtained and firms selected under stipulations laid down by the department.

6. Despite this when the High Court order of 28 July 2011 and the Minister’s announcement of 1 September 2013 were not implemented, despite EFC approval on 13 December 2013 till 15 September 2014, the new Health Minister, in his notes dated 16 September 2014 wanted to know from the Secretary the reasons thereof and asked the Secretary to call a meeting to ascertain who caused the delay and “as early as possible to expedite the process”.

But, instead of honoring the Minister, the Secretary has taken all steps to delay the process!

This is when the State is in the quagmire of AIDS.

Sad

Prasant Patnaik’s book on contemporary politics and society unveiled

release of mo drustireA compilation of columns contributed to Suryaprava by eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik was released by B.K.Publications Pvt Ltd at Bhubaneswar Sunday evening.

We are reproducing here the report published in orissadairy.com

It was intensely a personal journey where larger picture of society automatically becomes a part of my existence, said Prasanta patnaik, veteran columnist, story teller and political commentator. Talking to a select group of writers, journalists, social workers and sensible readers Sri Patnaik spoke strait from his heart on what, how and why he writes.

His sixth book “Mo Drustire” has been unveiled and dedicated to the readers in a ceremony at Pantha Niwas, Bhubaneswar on 19th of October. Former judge of Odisha High court justice A.S.Naidu released the book as chief guest. While speaking on the ceremony justice Naidu outlined few vital points of Sri patnaik’s writing and it’s relevance to our time and society.elaborately speaking on the current state of politics and governance justice Naidu emphasized that a writer must play his role as a social participant and protester of evils.

Famous poet and former vice chancellor of Ravenshaw University Devdas Chhotray spoke about the unseen creative sparks of the book hidden in between the lines.Sri Chhotray said that literature and politics go hand in hand as blood brothers. There is a creative side of every journalist which can at times sparks marvelous literary potential. Critic and historian Professor Pritish Acharya reviewed the book and presented an objective analysis of the book. He pointed out that every political writer must look in to the global context of the local politics. Poet and critic Kedar Mishra coordinated and introduced the book, author and the guests to the audience. Publisher and owner of BK publication Bijaya Kumar Mohapatra proposed official vote of thanks.

The chief guest felicitated cover Designer Sudhir Lenka, renowned cartoonist Kamalakanta Rath, young photographer Ayush patnaik, writer’s assistants Subhasree and Sagarika for their contribution to bring out the book.

Orissa is always so beautiful

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

leafless loveliness

 

It was July 16, this year. Monsoon was in adolescence. Its eager embrace was melting the summer into intermittent showers. Sky was lusciously dressed in clouds. The road was lonely. I was coming back to Bhubaneswar from Rourkela. Time was noon.

 

And on the roadside, in that enticing solitude, I had seen someone whom all these months I have tried to describe, but have never got the words to say what exactly it was.

 

Was it me in my amazement spread from the road to the horizon?

 

Was it just a feeling of becoming one with eternality in enormity of nature?

 

After around four months, this leafless loveliness captured in my iPhone reminds me of that lovely moment.

Orissa is always so beautiful.

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