Samaja in the maze of forgery: RNI moved to reject ADM’s spurious report and conduct enquiry in right earnest, as Law does not allow any newspaper to run under fake ownership

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Servants of the People Society, New Delhi, has illegally captured the Oriya daily ‘Samaja’ by taking advantage of a WILL of one of its founders Pt. Gopabandhu Das forged by his protege Lingaraj Mishra in nexus with Radhanath Rath, both of who had benefited from being successive editors of the paper and, induced to Orissa cabinet by virtue of their association with the powerful daily, had gained immensely in political life. They, in fact, had transformed the paper from basically a social service utility to a power-politics game field, where only the religious revivalists and right-reactionaries were / are conspicuous by their presence.

This transformation has played a major role in strengthening right-reactionary political set-ups in Orissa. Naturally, therefore, the present chief minister, who is known more for being a server of the interest of mega industrial houses like POSCO/Vedanta/Tata/Jindal etc than of the interest of indigenous Oriyas, has found in it an obliging ally. This nexus is demoralizing the officers so much that a district labor officer – P.K.Mohapatra – did not dare to wake up against unfair labor practices rampant in the Samaja establishment despite being notified for several months, and, instead of punishment for this stark violation of his duties as the area labor officer, he was rewarded with a promotion, to the detriment of morality of fellow officers.

Sadly, the syndrome has expanded to other departments too. It is horrific to see that government officers are being forced to serve the interest of the illegal occupiers of this paper by the circumstances created by the Chief Minister himself. A glaring instance has come to light when the ADM of Cuttack, asked by the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) to enquire into alleged illegitimacy of declared owners of the Samaja, had to stop enquiring midway to feed the RNI with a spurious report, after Save the Samaja Forum (SSF) filed a Writ Case in the Orissa High Court seeking a directive to the said ADM to act diligently on the RNI’s direction. The shenanigans marked in the ADM’s office convince us that the ADM was under pressure to rush his spurious report to RNI in order only to render the Writ petition inconsequential.

And, curiously, the ADM had to abandon his enquiry midway under pressure. From documents obtained under RTI, it transpires that, the ADM had asked the Government Pleader of Cuttack to give his legal opinion in the matter; but before the GP could prepare his legal opinion, the ADM closed his enquiry in utmost hurry and without even asking the raisers of the allegation to substantiate their allegation, rushed his report to the RNI. He was, as our sources say, under alarming pressure from above to close the enquiry and send his report to RNI as quickly as possible. Therefore, he had to abandon the enquiry midway.

It is noteworthy that only a day after the ADM was notified by the Advocate General of the Writ Case filed by SSF, he had to entertain a fake WILL of Gopabandhu submitted to him by illegal occupiers of the Samaja and without any enquiry into whether or not it was a genuine copy of the WILL, when absence of any semblance of genuine certification of the true copy, if it was so, of the WILL was crying for such an enquiry, the ADM rushed his spurious report to RNI, within 4 days of being notified of the Writ Case. The ADM was so much overwhelmed by the pressure from above that he did not informed the SSF of closure of the enquiry and submission of his report on July 5, 2013 even when he received a memo from SSF on July 16, 2013, demanding expeditious enquiry.

The SSF has raised a complaint against the spurious report of the ADM and demanded for a fresh enquiry by the RNI as the Press Laws do not allow a newspaper to run under fake ownership.

For documentation, the SSF letter to RNI is given below:

No. 14/CO/2013 Date 20.08.2013

To The Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)
(Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)
West Block 8, Wing 2, R.K. Puram,
New Delhi-110066

Sub: Complaint against continuance of illegality in publication of Oriya Daily ‘The Samaj’, under false ownership.

Ref: RNI letter No. 18/177/2012-R3 dated November 20, 2012 read with Save the Samaja forum letter dated 05.10.2012 and letter of A.D.M., Cuttack bearing No. 1353 dated. 05.07.2013

Sir,
We the undersigned are reporters of at least forty years standing. On behalf of “Save the Samaja Forum”, we had urged upon you to please intervene and halt the illegal publication of the Oriya daily “Samaja” (Cuttack) under false ownership of Servants of the People Society, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi.
The Society above named has been using a false and fabricated WILL of original owner of the paper, late Pt. Gopabandhu Das claimed to have been dictated on his deathbed, just before he breathed his last on 17.6.1928. Like all others of Orissa, we too were mislead to believe the above claim to be factual, because the people who forged the WILL were known for their close proximity to Gopabandhu and had gained public esteem by successively occupying the editorship of the paper. It was beyond our perception that such persons of politico-social eminence could have resorted to naked forgery to occupy the popular paper of the late leader.
But as no sin can be hidden for all time to come, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Representative-in-Chief of Orissa’s premiere website orissamatters.com stumbled upon the “exact photo copy of Gopabandhu’s last will” while browsing old papers of the 1980s in professional pursuit. That “exact photo copy of the Will” did not carry the signature of Pt. Gopabandhu Das. Shocked by the unexpected discovery, he conducted a thorough research and found various documents that made him suspect that the Samaja is licensed to run under fake ownership. The forgers had operated under the umbrella of the Servants of the People Society and from their time, the said society has kept the forgery a secret and has fetched tremendous financial benefits by continuously cheating the RNI over ownership of the paper
in sharp contravention of and blatant disregard to the governing law. He exposed the matter in orissamatters.com. That constituted the base of Save the Samaja Forum, which wanted the Servants of the People Society and/or the Samaja to remove the suspicion the stumbled upon “exact photo copy of the WILL” was creating. But they kept mum. They had inserted a quarter-page advertisement in page 1 of the daily Samaja in appealing the public to ignore the allegation raised by Save the Samaja Forum; but they never came out with the genuine WILL, if any, to clear the doubt over ownership. This led the undersigned to attract your kind attention to the dubious ownership of the paper.
We are thankful to you for having initiated immediate action on our complaint. You were pleased to request the A.D.M. of Cuttack to conduct an investigation into the matter and report on action taken (Annexure-1).
But the A.D.M. has sent you his report without any inquiry (Annexure-2).
We had met the A.D.M. many times personally to request him to conduct the inquiry as expeditiously as possible. But regretfully the A.D.M. has sent you the report under Annexure-2 without any inquiry and without even asking us to substantiate our allegation.
It is a matter of great concern that the A.D.M. has, behind our back, entertained a fake WILL of Gopabandhu submitted by the illegal occupiers of the Samaja, even though that copy of the so called WILL is not a valid certified copy of the said WILL.
We have obtained on 13.08.2013 the photocopies of the WILL submitted by the wrongful occupiers of the Samaja through their General Manager by using RTI. A copy thereof is enclosed (Annexure -3) for your kind perusal. It is not a certified copy, whereas we have documents in our possession that proves that, this WILL submitted by the illegal occupiers of the Samaja to the A.D.M. is a fake WILL. Had the A.D.M. asked us to substantiate our allegation we could have submitted the relevant documents.
It is necessary to say here that, the A.D.M., Cuttack had asked the Tahasildar of Cuttack Sadar by his letter No. 62/Gen. & Misc. dated 04.01.2013 to inquire into our allegation and report within a week. The Tahasildar gave his response to A.D.M. in his letter No. 4584 dated 21.06.2013. The A.D.M. then wrote a letter to the government pleader, Cuttack on 25.06.2013 vide No. 2985 requesting him to examine the documents and submit his legal opinion (Annexure-4).
As it was clear to us that the A.D.M. was not acting in right earnest on your letter referred to above we preferred a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa seeking a direction to the A.D.M. for compliance of your orders. The Writ Case filed on July 01, 2013 bears the No. W.P. (C) 14507 of 2013. As per judicial custom in vogue, the copy thereof was given to the Advocate General of Orissa instantly who also immediately informed the A.D.M. of the case.
In order to render the Writ Case inconsequential, without waiting for the legal opinion of the government pleader that he had sought for (Annexure-4), the A.D.M. has sent you the misleading and wrongful report on 5th of July, 2013 vide his letter referred to above (Annexure-2).
The crux of the issue is fake ownership of the Samaja based on a forged WILL of Pt. Gopabandhu Das. In order to continue to print and publish the Samaja, the Servants of the People Society is to prove that the WILL of Pt. Gopabandhu Das which constitute the base of its ownership over the paper, is genuine. If they fail to prove the genuineness of the WILL they have produced, they must be debarred from publishing the daily Samaja under their ownership. The law does not allow continuance of publication of a newspaper under false and fake ownership.
Therefore, and specifically as the A.D.M. has blatantly failed in his duty to conduct necessary inquiry and has accepted a fake WILL as genuine to mislead you, we request you to please reject the wrong report of the A.D.M. and to please stop publication of the Oriya daily ‘The Samaja’ under false ownership till at least the Servants of the People Society proves that the WILL they have produced before the ADM of Cuttack is genuine and on the basis of the same, their ownership over the Samaja is also genuine.
Kind Regards,

Sd/- Subhash Chandra Pattanayak
Sd/- Prasanta Patnaik

(Joint conveners of Save the Samaja Forum)

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