People of Orissa Should be Allowed to Know What the High Court has Ordered on Sahitya Award

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Mother tongue and motherland are in Oriya concept equated with the mother. “ମାତୃଭାଷା ମାତୃଭୁମି ଉଭୟ ଜନନୀ”.

Therefore, it is natural on part of every Oriya to know of what exactly the Orissa High Court has said while allowing the presentation of Sahitya Award 2011 by India’s National Academy of Letters to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ (ଅଚିହ୍ନା ବାସଭୁମି) despite the book being a displayer of nasty words and expression of hatred against lower castes, women and muslims.

On the plea that selection of this book as the best book in Oriya language for the national award was obtained through manipulation, a man of letters – Sricharan Pratap ‘Kaniska’ – had preferred a writ case before the High Court of Orissa, which was registered as W.P.(C) 1871 OF 2012 with a Misc Case numbering 1876/2012 that had resulted in a stay on the award. But subsequently on 14 February 2012, the Court lifted the stay and dismissed the case as not maintainable as a PIL, on the basis of which, the Academy has already presented the award to the writer of this book.

As the people of Orissa – including the NROs – are also anxious to know what the High Court has really said, currently in a foreign tour, I tried to get it for my readers through the judgment site in the internet; but it was not available. I contacted the petitioner and from him I got the information that though he has applied for an urgent copy of the order, he has not yet got it, because the members of the bench – Chief Justice V. Gpal Gowda and Justice B.N.Mohapatra – have not yet signed the verdict.

This position worsens the predicament.

Presentation of the award by the Academy of Letters on 15 February following the rejection of the petition in the High Court, when the petitioner has not even got a copy of the order because the same is not signed by the judges, has given birth to a phenomenon that makes one see how eager was the Academy to give away the award, exposed in public platforms as manufactured through manipulations.

To us, presentation of the national award to this book as the best one amongst Oriya books published in a given period of three years from 2007 to 2009 is an affront to the dignity of our language. We do not know, whether the judges have read this book or not; but we know the book is vitiated with so much obnoxious words and expression against the women, lower caste people and muslims that no sane society can vouch for it.

A few samples of filth from the book are viewable in saubhasya.com. We are not producing the same here as that should be requiring translation thereof into English and if done, that may be very embarrassing to any Oriya who prides over majestic beauty of his mother tongue.

This book in normal circumstances could never have earned national award as the most outstanding book in Oriya. But what for the High Court has cleared the book for the national award is not known to any in details as yet. Therefore the sooner the order is published or made available to the public, is better.

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