Inviolability of Official Language Act desecrated by Orissa Assembly: Governor should refuse Assent

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The winter session of Orissa Assembly that suffered premature death as the Chief Minister who commands brutal majority decided not to be answerable, has, however, been able to pass certain Law Bills drafted not at all in Oriya, but only in English language.

In passing the said Law Bills, de facto surreptitiously, under cover of the deafening commotions, the Government has blatantly violated the Orissa Official Language Act 1954, and if the Governor gives them his assent, the Laws thus made would be illegal.

The Opposition had rightly demanded for recall and rejection of the adopted Bills as they are written only in English; but the Speaker has ruled that Bills made in English are not unfit to be adopted, as English is in use in the Assembly.

The Speaker’s ruling is not challengeable in any court of law, the treasury bench is convinced. But the Governor has the right to deny his assent to the adopted Bills, because notwithstanding what the Speaker has ruled, presentation of Bills only in English was violative of Orissa Official Language Act, and, therefore, illegal. The legislative body adopting an illegal Bill is illegal.

When the Act in original had made it a must that Oriya is “to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa”, Biju Patnaik – father of present Chief Minister, who has not taught his son a single alphabet in Oriya – had sabotaged the primacy of Oriya language by amending this Act in 1963, in order to satisfy his personal ego of elitism and to please the non-Oriya officers, who, like their fathers in neighboring States, were always against the mana of Oriya language.

Biju was the greatest political hypocrite of his time equipped with uncanny ability to hoodwink anybody. After grabbing the Chief Minister position, he used his position for his self interest, indulged in all sorts of corruption and even sabotaged the country during Chinese aggression. Yet, he had claimed his steps to be patriotic and motivated with sacrifice for the people! Anybody who searches for Biju in these pages will get the evidences.

Destroying the spirit of Orissa Official Language Act 1954 was not a problem for this shrewd operator. He engineered an amendment in the Act in 1963. The amendment added English to be the language for use in the Assembly; but lest the people revolt, the amendment said, English would be used “in addition to Oriya”, not in exclusion of Oriya.

This shrewd amendment opened the road for use of English to the detriment of Oriya as the language of administration. Biju Patnaik had thus destroyed utility value of Oriya Language; but yet, in fear of public wrath, he had not dared to undo the primacy of Oriya language in businesses of the Orissa Assembly. The amendment had allowed English to be used IN ADDITION TO ORIYA.

The Opposition had, therefore, rightly demanded for recall and nullification of the Bills made in English language alone. The Speaker’s Ruling that there is no wrong in Bills written only in English, is, therefore, wrong.

The Orissa Assembly has clearly done a wrong to Orissa by adopting Bills written only in English, not in Oriya. But nobody except the Governor can protect the mana of Oriya at this stage.

We urge upon the Governor to refuge his assent to the Bills adopted in blatant contravention of Orissa Official Language Act. The Act, despite the treacherous amendment in 1963, has the inviolable stipulation that Oriya shall be the language of Law, “in addition” to which, English may be entertained. When the Bills were not written in Oriya, but only in English, they violated the inviolable stipulation laid down in Orissa Official Language Act, 1954.

The Governor should appreciate this position of Law and refrain from giving the Bills written only in English, his assent.

The Legislative Assembly must not be allowed the luxury of making Laws in ways that are basically illegal.

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  1. ଇଂରାଜି ହେଉଛି ଆମ ପାଇଁ ଅଣସାମ୍ଵିଧାନିକ, ଅଗଣତାନ୍ତ୍ରିକ ଭାଷା । ଇଂରାଜି ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିବା ପାଇଁ ଆଇନ ବି ନାହିଁ । ସମ୍ଵିଧାନ କହୁ ନ ଥିବା ଭାଷା , ଆଇନ କରାଗଲେ ମଧ୍ୟ ତାହା ଅସିଦ୍ଧ ।

    english is not there in our constitution and hence the use of english is unconstitutional and undemocratic . The use of english is also unlawful.

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