Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Lawyers of Sambalpur are on indefinite relay strike in support of their demand for a bench of the Orissa High Court.
Sambalpur should certainly get the High Court bench and every right thinking man of Orissa should support the demand.
The State Government as well as the Orissa High Court should take prompt steps in this favor and the lawyers of Cuttack should cooperate.
Peoples have every right to move courts without any disadvantage.
But who moves a Court? Only the disadvantaged peoples move the Courts.
When a person is disadvantaged by some other person(s) or system, he or she moves an appropriate Court for justice. A severely disadvantaged person, whose life and liberty fall into jeopardy, needs the High Court.
But seeking justice from the High Court of Orissa is often more disadvantageous than the disadvantage a litigant wants removed, if he or she does not live in or around the City of Cuttack, where the High Court sits.
To move the High Court one needs a lawyer who practices there. And, once a lawyer is fixed, the litigant falls into a labyrinth where he / she seldom finds the remedy within reach. The more eminent the lawyer the more becomes the cost of his advice and service and the more distant becomes the horizon of justice.
Let me cite an instance of how litigants from remote corners of the State feel suffocated by depending on lawyers of Cuttack. A young friend from Sambalpur, Sri Biswanath Mohapatra, disadvantaged in the matter of his rank in government service, had requested me to recommend an efficient lawyer of Cuttack, whom he should hand over his case.
Like all highlanders, Mohapatra is a simple natured upright person. And such a person usually does not like to be deliberately harassed by another person or any authority. And highlanders are by orientation too law abiding to resort to ‘Bijuism’ against miscreant mandarins in administrative offices.
Bijuism is a typical synonym of hooliganism.
When Chief Minister after decades long public rejection, Biju Patnaik was instigating the peoples of Orissa for beating the bureaucrats as and when any of them was hit by any bad orders issued by any office.
It had given birth to such anarchy that his own secretariat staff had assaulted Biju himself and the peoles of Orissa had thrashed him to dustbin in the subsequent elections.
So a person like Mohapatra could never have resorted to Bijuism to avenge the injustice he was subjected to. The only best remedy a man like him could have besought, was moving the Court for justice.
And, the appropriate Court (for him the High Court) was situated in Cuttack. This is why he had wanted me to find out a Cuttack based lawyer for him.
Amongst my many lawyer friends of Cuttack there is a senior one who is nationally well known and whom I personally respect. I asked him if he could help. He agreed. I informed Mohapatra. He came from Sambalpur with his file. The lawyer perused it and agreed to take up the case. He did not charge any consultation fee; but specified the amount that he would take in advance to conduct the case. The entire amount of money that he had demanded was paid in my presence.
The case was filed, was admitted and was registered vide a number of 2002.
And, the matter perhaps rests there.
Till date, Mohapatra has visited the lawyer many times and every time has paid for the juniors of the senior lawyer. But till date he has not been informed of any development.
How long is the period from 2002 to 2009?
The Court has many cases to settle and the lawyer has many cases to handle, he hears whenever he visits the chamber of the lawyer.
Who can stop the delay?
Should the lawyer not honestly say as to whether any case registered after this case in the year 2002 has so far been taken up or not?
Should the lawyer not think of the distance of Cuttack from Sambalpur and the turmoil his client must be going through during fruitless journeys in pursuit of justice?
Why he is not explaining him the real reason of delay?
As a man who had recommended this ‘eminent’ lawyer to Mohapatra, I am deeply embarrassed over the lackadaisical manner the seeker of justice is being treated with.
But this is not a solitary case.
This is just a sample of how peoples are being harassed because of the geographical distance of the citadel of justice from their places of dwelling.
On the other hand, the lawyers practicing in peripheral Courts suffer from acute mental agony when the inordinate delay in disposal of the appeal cases preferred by their clients in the High Court under their advice eclipses their professional credibility in the eyes of the persons disadvantaged by the lower Court verdict(s).
Had the High Court been having a bench at Sambalpur, peoples like Mahapatra might have pursued their cases through the lawyers of their locality. Cost of litigation should have drastically been less and the legal fraternity of Sambalpur side of Orissa could have earned utmost satisfaction out of their ability to professionally help their clients up to the highest stage of jurisprudence in the State.
I support the demand for a bench of Orissa High Court at Sambalpur and specifically at Sambalpur for the very reason that it is the peoples of Sambalpur that had facilitated creation of Orissa High Court.
It is here the peoples had revolted against disadvantage caused to them in seeking justice when Hindi was promulgated on 15.1.1895 as the court language by the then Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces to which the British had arbitrarily annexed the Sambalpur district.
The peoples’ movement for restoration of their mother tongue Oriya as the Court language so that justice shall not stay beyond their reach had made the British to review the position.
In July 1901, the peoples of Sambalpur District had placed their specific demands before the new Chief commissioner Sir Andrew Fraser, wherein they had stressed that if the Government does not appreciate to restore Oriya language in the Sambalpur District under the plea that it may be inconvenient for the administration to have a particular District of the Central Provinces managed by a language different from that of the province, the Sambalpur District be immediately separated from the CP and be merged in the Oissa Division.
Sir Fraser extensively traveled through out the Sambalpur District and noted the stark disadvantage the peoples were pushed into by denial of justice in their language and by keeping Courts out of their reach.
He sent to the Government of India a thorough report depicting the correctness of the peoples’ demand and suggested that the Sambalpur District should be separated from CP, “if it was thought impossible to have Oriya as the language of one of the Central provinces”.
Kula Gaurav Madhu Sudan Das on behalf of the Oriyas of Sambalpur moved a memorandum to the Government strengthening the same with Fraser’s findings, which the British Officer had also elaborated in his work “With the Rajas and Rayats”.
Though the Government did not agree to separate Sambalpur from CP, it decided to desist from keeping the Courts beyond the peoples’ reach and restored Oriya as the Court Language.
This administrative experience latter convinced the British to agree to restoration of Oriya speaking tracks to a Province and thus modern Orissa was created as the first State of India created on the basis of mother tongue.
Had there been no modern Orissa, there would never have been the High Court of Orissa.
To keep peoples of Sambalpur devoid of getting a bench of the Orissa High Court is not only an offense against the people of that area, but also an offense against history.
The entire population of Orissa must support the Sambalpur lawyers who are leading the most justified demand of the people who in fact had contributed their best to birth of Orissa.