Ramesh Pattnaik: Martyr in the battle against exploitation in Samaja

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

As has already been shown, the history of Samaja under Servants of the People Society (SoPS) is a history of treachery, forgery and scourgery.

This write-up will narrate how a low paid employee of Samaja namely Ramesh Chandra Pattnaik breathed his last in a long fight for justice on the battle field of Law that spanned from a labor office at Cuttack to the Supreme Court at New Delhi, as his mighty employer, after having illegally dismissed him, had misused media power to obstruct adjudication of his dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act and yet again had foiled the relief granted to him by the lowest Civil Court, Cuttack by using the forum of the High Court of Orissa.

If anything, he is a martyr amongst the workers in the battle for justice in the ramparts of Law.

Anti-worker I.D.Act

bijubabu watchig scpTwo and half decades ago, I had set fire to Industrial Disputes Act in front of the Orissa Legislative Assembly when it was in session, to shock-awake the State Government to the need of reference of a case of dismissal of a Journalist (Vevekanand Dash) to the Industrial Tribunal. His powerful employer being the son-in-law of the Chief Minister of that time, the Minister of Labor had blocked the reference taking advantage of a provision in this Act that no industrial dispute raised by a worker can be taken into cognizance by a labor Court or Industrial Tribunal, despite Conciliation Officer’s recommendation, unless the State Government refers the dispute for adjudication. The then Leader of Opposition Biju Patnaik had witnessed my action, but as he also belonged to the class of exploiters, kept mum in the Assembly over the anti-worker provision in the I.D.Act.

Ramesh Pattnaik was the first victim of this provision in Orissa.

Rath and the rule of terror

Radhanath Rath, whom an anti-people Government had decorated with Padma Bhusan, was running a rule of terror in the Samaja organization. He was a ruthless oppressor and to him, the Samaja employees were just like subjects in a fiefdom. He was hiring and firing them as he liked. He was deriving a sadistic pleasure by keeping the employees intimidated. He had promulgated a standing order not by signing the same with the employees, but with an outsider behind back of the employees. He had ruined the employees’ collective morale to such extent that their trade union was accepting his hegemony in its affairs without any objection. We see trade union activism has grown amongst employees of Samaja only after demise of Rath. This speaks volumes of how Rath had kept the employees intimidated constantly.

And to keep the employee constantly intimidated, he was subjecting them to unfair labor practices as he liked. An example of his whimsical action was Ramesh Chandra Pattnaik.

He was, all on a sudden, given the shock of suspension on 9 April 1969. Rath was expecting that he would go and fall at his feet praying for withdrawal of the suspension order. He could have derived a sadistic pleasure from that. But, instead of falling at his feet, Ramesh preferred a complaint before the Labor officer. He was dismissed from service on 4 July 1969 under prevention of a domestic enquiry having found him guilty of charges framed against him.

Denial of reference under I.D.Act

Pattnaik challenged the illegal order of dismissal before the Labor Officer. Due to non-cooperation of management the conciliation failed.The Conciliation officer sent the failure report to the higher authorities with his recommendation for adjudication. But Rath used his tremendous media power to get the recommendation of the labor law implementation authorities rejected on 5 March 1070.

Browbeating the Civil Court

Ramesh knew of the design and understood that unless the government refers his dispute for adjudication, the Labor Court/Tribunal shall take no cognizance of his case. Therefore he had, without any prejudice to his industrial dispute, invoked the Civil Court jurisdictions on 14 Nov 1969 for declaration that the termination of his service was null and void and that he continued to be in service despite the order of dismissal and was entitled to the emoluments for the period subsequent to the date of dismissal.

In order to browbeat the Civil Court, heavyweight advocates were engaged to oppose the civil case under the plea that Pattnaik being an industrial worker, the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain his case. The Munsif (Presiding Officer of the lowest Civil Court) in his order dated 12 Dec 1974 rejected the management plea and ordered that the suit was maintainable in his Court. He further declared that natural justice was denied to Pattnaik before dismissing him. But, surprisingly he refused to give him the relief sought for, interpreting employment of Pattnaik in Samaja as a contract of personal service.

Law is a conundrum and judges are not punished for wrong interpretations of law.

Appeal and after

Severely disadvantaged by the Munsif’s order that dismissed his suit despite finding how natural justice was denied to the him, Pattnaik approached the First Appellate Court who by its order on 17 Oct 1974 remanded the case to the Munsif with instructions to record findings on the additional issues to be framed consequent upon the amendment of plaint.

Hearing the case afresh, the Munsif said that Pattnaik was entitled to a decree of Rs.852.70 as compensation for “wrongful dismissal” and he was also entitled to pendent lite and future compensation at the rate of Rs.165 per month until he attends the age of 60 years or until his death whichever is earlier. But shockingly. the said Munisif rejected Patnaik’s claim for incremental pay, gratuity and bonus.

Pattnaik moved the Appellate Court again against this later part of the Munsif’s order whereas the management filed cross objections to the Munsif’s finding that the dismissal was “wrongful”.

The First Appellate Court dismissed the management’s cross objections and confirmed that Pattnaik’s dismissal was wrongful.

Rejecting the Munsif’s earlier observation that Pattnaik’s employment in Samaja was a matter of a contract of personal service, the First Appellate Court held that, his service had already acquired “a statutory status” by virtue of his conditions of service being governed by the Standing Orders. The AC therefore ruled that the dismissal of Pattnaik was contrary to law and he was entitled to the emoluments of the service since his dismissal till reinstatement, as his service shall not be treated as broken.

Samaja dragged the matter to High Court

An ideal employer should have seen his own fault in the mirror of the concurrent findings of both the courts that Pattnaik’s dismissal was wrongful and could have amended its wrong steps. But Rath was too anti-worker to honor the judicial wisdom that went in favor of the workman. He took the case to the High Court of Orissa, by using the SoPS. Biswanth Das and Others Vs Ramesh Chandra Patnaik and Another commenced.

The illegal occupiers of Samaja did not challenge the concurrent finding of both the Civil Courts that the order of dismissal of Pattnaik was wrongful inasmuch as it was made in violation of the principles of natural justice as well as the standing orders; but they challenged the Appellate Court’s orders that Pattnaik be treated as in continuous service with emoluments from the date of dismissal.

While thus admitting that their action against Pattnaik was “wrongful”, the wrong-doers told the High Court that once having invoked the conciliation power of the labor officer, the wrongly dismissed workman had no right to move the Civil Court. A single judge bench of the High Court relied upon another single judge verdict to say that, the wrongfully dismissed workman had no right to move the Civil Court, even though the State Government had blocked his right to be heard in the Industrial Tribunal. This judgment was delivered on August 9, 1978.

Ah! August 9 !

Ah! August 9, the day the poor exploited population of India had added their strength to Gandhi’s voice to give the ‘Quit India’ call to the British! What irony! A poor worker’s case was rejected by the State Government to be referred to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication and the High Court nullified the relief given to him in the Civil Court by saying that the industrial adjudication was the only avenue available to him for redress of the wrong done to him, in the circumstance of the case, even though the I.D.Act says, no Labor Court or Industrial Tribunal can take cognizance of any industrial dispute unless referred to by the Government. What irony! What a great irony on the day of an anniversary of ‘quit India movement’ that the working class had made a success!

Law is a conundrum

Law is a conundrum and judges are free to interpret the laws and deliver their verdicts as their wisdom dictates, even if that denied justice to the wronged worker.

Heroic death of a Martyr

But the wronged poor man was having an exemplary workman spirit too real to acquiesce into accepting the single judge of the High Court as the last word in Law. He went in appeal to the Supreme Court.

He was physically and financially ruined. He had disposed of ancestral landed properties to sustain his family of six members including two sons and two daughters – all school going – and to meet the litigation cost.

Enforced idleness had already put him in slow starvation. Before he got justice in the Supreme Court, he breathed his last.

The great fighter carrying in his body the sufferings and determinations of the working class to overcome the sufferings, and epitomizing the spirit of the working class to fight against exploitation, died a heroic death.

Baton of fight carried by the wife

After his death, his wife Smt. Prasannaa Pattnaik took up the baton of fight from her husband’s funeral pyre and made herself and her children the substitutes for the Appellant in the case before the Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court disapproved the judgement of the single judge of the Orissa High Court and passed an order on allowing the appeal of Ramesh Chandra Pattnaik.

This order is very significant. I quote the relevant portion of the judgement below:

“We have heard learned counsels for the parties. During the pendency of this appeal, the workman died. His widow and four children have been brought on record as legal heirs. We are prima facie of the view that the High Court fell into error in reversing the judgment of the first appellate court. It is, however, not necessary for us to go into the merits of the controversy. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of this case, specifically that the first appellate court granted relief to the workman as back as march 1976, we direct the respondent-management to pay a sum of Rs. two lacs as compensation to the widow of the workman within two months from today”.

It was a moral victory for Ramesh Chandra Pattnaik and his family. It had come to them on 23 January 1996.

January 23 revered in Orissa in matter of her two great sons – Veer Surendra Sai and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, became a day of posthumous victory of the Martyr amongst her working children, Ramesh Chandra Pattnaik.

Fight not over

But the fight against the oppressive management of Samaja is not yet over. Devi Prasanna Nayak, Subash Chandra Singh and others have been fighting for justice to the exploited employees of this this paper even today, and the State Government is continuing to ignore the unfair labor practices and exploitation resorted to by the illegal occupiers of the paper.

Nothing could be more Incongruous than Biju Janata Dal’s Blood Plan

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced today that his party – Biju Janata Dal – would conduct blood collection camps all over the State with effect from March 5.

Nothing could be more incongruous than this, when his government has been spreading AIDS by keeping the blood banks bereft of necessary facilities to supply safe blood to patients.

If the BJD blood plan is not meretricious and nasty political ploy, it would be better for its members to educate their chief minister Naveen Patnaik to act honestly and to immediately implement the NAT decision for safe screening of blood, without waiting for bribe.

The following links may be studied by them to reach the crux and to educate their party chief -cum-chief minister on necessity of proper screening of blood, to stop spread of AIDS in absence of appropriate technology.

http://orissamatters.com/2015/02/19/aids-imperils-orissa-deliberate-delay-in-reaching-at-remedy-is-payola-the-purpose/

http://orissamatters.com/2014/10/20/orissa-in-quagmire-of-aids-high-court-ruling-and-ministers-order-rot-under-red-tapes/

http://orissamatters.com/2012/08/28/aids-a-coterie-of-officers-use-tricks-of-subterfuge-against-the-high-court-order/

http://orissamatters.com/2012/07/08/shocking-reality-aids-being-aided-by-government-of-orissa/

http://orissamatters.com/2012/09/02/orissa-matters-exposed-a-malady-that-reached-a-remedy-thanks-to-prasad-harichandan-and-the-new-health-minister/

Mahtab mustn’t be allowed to demoralize the CBI and to eclipse Judicial mind

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak Cuttack MP, Bhartruhari Mahtab belongs to BJD, the party of sycophants, known loudmouths of which are now in fidgets over chit fund cheating. To them the CBI enquiry portends incurable political debacle.

When alter ego of the BJD government – Advocate General Asok Mohanty, incumbent till summoned by CBI in chit fund scam matter – is in jail custody pending trial due to location of his dubious deal with Chit Fund fraudster Pradeep Sethy, it is Mahtab who has used TV channels to instigate the people against Mohanty’s arrest.

He claims that Mohanty is too honest to be investigated into, according to his personal knowledge about Mohanty. His personal knowledge has no legal standing.

If he appears before the concerned court as a ‘defense-witness’ in support of Mohanty, his assertion may be tested through cross-examination and consequent court verdict.

But when Mohanty is in court custody and the court has taken cognizance of his offense, and his remand to CBI having come to the verge of end he is either to be granted bail or sent to the jail, a ruling party MP declaring that Mohanty is honest and the CBI should not have arrested him, is nothing but ruling party’s attempt to demoralize the CBI and to eclipse free and fair application of judicial mind and therefore, contrived to influence the CBI judge.

Mahtab should immediately be taken to task for this mischief,

CBI arrests former Advocate General Asok Mohanty; Investigation urgent into role of Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Amongst all other Orissan Media, ORISSA MATTERS was the first to dissect the intricate connection of Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra and Advocate Asok Mohanty with chit fund mafia Pradeep Sethy. The posting, dated July 22, was captioned:

Judicial Enquiry Essential to determine if Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra did not act a conduit for a chit fund mafia

Neither such emphasis was laid in social media nor in any print media till then. Alok Jena’s case in the Supreme Court was not having this matter in particular at the crux. Jayant Kumar Das’s input pregnant with information obtained under RTI was in disarray. We had to conduct a bit research before preferring the posting. Jayant babu had dug out the core information on which we had to improve upon. The CBI was yet to step in. So, I had, in the July 22 posting, insisted upon Judicial enquiry into role of Justice Mohapatra to find out if being a High Court Judge he had acted a conduit for Pradeep Sethy.

When under orders of the Supreme Court, CBI commenced its investigation, Mohanty quitted the post of Advocate General about two month of exposure in these pages and faced the sleuths the next day.We insisted that he and Justice Mohapatra being two vertices of the same triangle of offense formed with Pradeep Sethy, both should be subjected to investigation at the same time. The article was captioned:

Advocate General quits and faces CBI; Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra be probed now

Now as CBI has officially arrested Mohanty, and Sethy is already in judicial custody, the left out vertex Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra shall have to be probed into. Without this, the probe cannot be completed.

We believe, the CBI must have taken up with the appropriate authorities – the Supreme Court, the President – for necessary clearance to bring Justice Mohapatra to its investigational jurisdiction. Without any prejudice thereto, we may say that it would be better for Justice Mohapatra to voluntarily state if he has not acted a conduit for chit fund cheat Pradeep Sethy.

It is really disgusting to wait for action when a judge is an object of suspicion in a felony of this type.

Properties of compradors in IDCO need be seized immediately pending responsibility fixation and punishment

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tabled in Orissa Assembly on June 23 exposes nasty facets of Orissa administration that patronizes private companies at the cost of the people.

Samples are galore. Private Companies have used the State Government to acquire vast volumes of land by misuse of Land Acquisition Act. Public Sector IDCO makes the acquisition under cover of ‘public purpose’ to hoodwink the law and on obtaining the lease of such land as well as government plots, subleases the same to private companies. 


Besides having located the illegalities in these deals, the CAG has come out with chilling information on how illegally the IDCO has helped some of the companies obtain thousands of crores of rupees from Banks by mortgaging the lands subleased to them.

According to CAG, on the basis of ‘no-objection-certificate’ (NOC) issued by IDCO, banks have sanctioned Rs. 52,423.50 crores to 12 industries against mortgage of 8489.828 acres of land that belong basically to the State Government, as IDCO is merely the lease holder. Issuance of NOC to help industries bag bank loans of such massive amount by mortgaging the land subleased to them by the IDCO is not permissible under the law, the CAG has said.

As far back as August 2010, a low-paid night watchman of IDCO was captured by the State vigilance for disproportionate property worth around Rs.2.6 crores. The vigilance is yet to tell the public as to what has happened to the said watchman Rajanikant Jena. A top functionary of the team that had raided Jena’s house then had confided in me that the watchman was witness to underhand transactions in land allocation and had amassed the wealth including cash amounting to Rs. 33,43, 960 seized during the raid, by blackmailing the compradors in official chairs of IDCO.

The unauthorized NOC that has helped industries cultivate sanction of Rs.52,423.50 crores bank loans against lands allocated to them in Orissa, are all compradors working for them from their chairs in IDCO.

This is a crime against the people of Orissa. it is incumbent upon the the State Government to act against these compradors. The night watchman episode made it clear that compradors are active in IDCO from top to lowest layer. Every position in IDCO that has attracted attention of CAG, should be subjected to prosecution for violation of rules and norms in eagerness to serve the interest of private industries in matter of allocation of land, grant of NOC to mortgage the same land for cultivating bank loans to the tune of around Rs.53 thousand crore,

To begin with, their properties should be sealed/seized till determination of innocence, if any.

And, vigilance should tell the people if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has no role in this offense.

CAG Report on Land Acquisition: Naveen Patnaik’s anti-people administration stripped layer by layer

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

“Emergency provision was arbitrarily applied, contrary to the provisions of Land Acquisition Act and the land owners were deprived of the rights to contest the land acquisition and protect their property due to inappropriate application of emergency provision,” points out the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its performance report on ‘Acquisition and allotment of land for industrial purpose by IDCO for the period of 2001-12’, released on June 23.

CAG has stripped Naveen Patnaik’s anti-people administration layer by layer.

The LA Act has given people certain safeguards to people to protect their landed properties by objecting to acquisition. The same is rendered inconsequential by use of ‘emergency’ clause. The mandarins managing administration are so mismanaged by Naveen Patnaik that officers having no jurisdiction to approve land allocation to private industries have done it in blatant contravention of legal stipulations. As for example, it is stipulated that in cases of emergency, IDCO recommendation for allocation of land to private companies may be approved by officers of Deputy Secretary and above rank. But CAG has found allocation of as much as 2845.38 acres of land recommended for only 10 companies approved by lower rank officials, having no jurisdiction at all, like the Under Secretary.

Ever since Naveen Patnaik has started functioning as Chief Minister, many cultivators have been denuded of their land under the design of ‘public purpose’. It seems, the public sector IDCO is acting a comprador for private industries.

The Naveen Patnaik government is forcing people to part with their landed property for ‘public purpose’, but in reality the lands are acquired for private purpose of private companies by using their money for acquisition.

The CAG has noted, “Land for these industries should have been acquired under Part VII of LA Act, but was acquired under ‘public purpose’ to by-pass the legal provisions and procedures prescribed under Part VII of the LA Act sand LA (Companies) Rule 1963”.

Lands are allotted to private companies according to their preference at locations they decide, without care for how it would affect agriculture, irrigation and environment. Even the Revenue and Disaster Management Department (RDMD) has been used as an instrument in service of the private companies. It has approved acquisition of 14,296.56 acres of land for 33 non-government industries during the period from 2002 to 2012 under ‘public purpose’ clause. But, according to the CAG, “the circumstances did not permit the land to be acquired under ‘public purpose’ design”.

The RDMD had tried to justify its action under the cover of Section 31 (1) of OIIDC Act 1980. The CAG has rejected this mischief. “The reply is not acceptable since IDCO was acquiring land for private promoters and the entire cost of acquisition was borne by the promoters concerned” the CAG has observed while pointing out how the ‘public purpose’ clause has been misused to by-pass the law that provides for safeguarding the interest of land owners from the pernicious grip of private industries.

People should not be fleeced for the chit fund depositors

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

When a government creates a corpus fund for a specific purpose, the money deposited in the said fund does not come from the pocket of the head of that government. It comes from the State Exchequer.

Chit Fund operators in Orissa have allegedly cheated several lakhs of people, touted to be of 40 lakhs families whose monetary loss is claimed to be of the tune of Rs. 60,000 crores, though in this “scam”, the exact number of duped depositors and the money involved has not yet been authentically determined.

There is reason to suspect that many high-positioned persons including politicians, bureaucrats and judges were operating the chit funds through their frontmen, which, otherwise, could not have become so monstrous.

As the so-called duped depositors started filing FIRs against the cheating and the police smelled the enormity of the offense, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik attempted to lessen the wrath of the depositors by pronouncing a corpus fund for payment of their dues, just in order to keep the climate congenial to his interest in election.

The declaration of the Chief Minister, basically a stunt as it was to keep the so-called duped depositors somewhat assuaged before election-2014, the proposed corpus fund has not yet materialized. The budget placed before the Assembly is entirely silent on this score.

When media has no ethical role in cultivating funds for payment to chit fund depositors, it is intriguing that, media-mega-power Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, leading a delegation of the allegedly duped depositors has submitted a memorandum to Finance Minister P. K. Amat demanding formation of the corpus fund without delay and refund of deposits to the affected depositors.

As a sentinel of Orissa’s interest, we strongly oppose the proposal to create a corpus fund to refund the money deposited in the chit funds by the so-called duped depositors.

There are branches of nationalized banks and official organs all over Orissa that offer many saving schemes with assured interest. The so-called duped depositors could not have been duped had they preferred their deposits in such saving schemes. Their avarice led them into the trap of chit funds and deposit of their money in chit funds was an offense against the State inasmuch as the deposit in chit funds denied flow of funds to the State coffers.

Notwithstanding the size of deposits in chit funds, every such deposit was contributive to black money. And the same cannot be encouraged by the State with assured refund of their money avariciously stashed in black money coffers.

Depositing in chit funds was not made with State approval and hence, State should have no financial liability in misappropriation of the said deposits by the chit fund operators.

The State has only one role to play in this matter. That is, investigation into allegation of cheating and prosecution against the chit fund operators if the allegations are prima facie convincing. Beyond this, the State must not take any step.

The chit fund depositors must be held as willful allies of black money syndicate and for their benefit, the people of Orissa must not be fleeced by the Chief Minister through his proposed corpus fund as every pie to be used in that fund would come from the money of the tax-payers.

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