Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In Orissa’s shameful and long history of police atrocity against active media persons, another black chapter has been added on March 26, 2013.
President of Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association Sri Devi Prasanna Nayak and eminent social worker Braja Bhai, who, as Servants of the People Society’s man in charge of the Samaja, had lifted the paper to top stature, have been arrested by Cuttack police after the hijackers were sure to lose their illicit grip over the premier daily of Orissa.
Police knows details of how the newspaper has been perishing under internecine quarrels amongst life members of the SoPS. The present gang of Samaja hijackers has been facing various cases under alleged charges of fraud, forgery, embezzlement and various other heinous crimes including severe moral turpitude.
As Sri Nayak, has refused to dance to the tune of the hooligans that have captured the paper, he has been arbitrarily transferred and simultaneously suspended and dismissed by the very same gang whose incumbency, according to a decision of the District Judge, Cuttack delivered on 21.03.2013, “appears to have no prima facie sanction of the Constitution of SoPS”. In view of this clear and unambiguous decision of the District Judge, all administrative actions of the occupiers of the Samaja are to be read as illegal orders. So, the lawful incumbent Vice President of SoPS Sri K.C.Tripathy, who is officiating as President, has nullified all illegal orders of the wrongful occupiers of the Samaja passed against Sri Nayak and has promoted him to the rank of senior subeditor with instruction to join the job immediately. Sri Tripathy has also reinstated Braja Bhai in his previous status with all corresponding powers that he was enjoying previously with emphasis on his resuming his office with immediate effect.
That, Sri Nayak was harassed by vested interest persons in occupation of the Samaja was located by the Conciliation officer in course of his inquiry, in consequence whereof, his case has been recommended for adjudication. It was a lady subeditor who had given deposition against Nayak before a stage-managed domestic inquiry to the extent of saying that there was neither any association of the employees nor any reality in Nayak being its President. To all employees who know the truth, it was professional envy in part and influence of the paper’s controversial printer-publisher Niranjan Rath on her in particular that had made her give the false and misleading deposition before the inquiry officer who was perceived as a puppet inquiry officer imported from Rath’s own place of living. Rath is a member of SoPS on whom the Inquiry Commission headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat has observations that makes one assume that the commission was not very far from saying that he is man of dubious moral standard.
In the meantime, officiating president of SoPS, Sri K.C.Tripathy has obtained a verdict from a competent Civil Court to the extent that his case against his rival group in the SoPS is “a foolproof case” and taking over his position by his rival group “appears to be prima facie without jurisdiction”, which establishes that all the actions of the occupiers of the Samaja are without jurisdiction. Hence, Tripathy’s order nullifying the orders of the occupiers of the Samaja against Sri Nayak and other employees of the paper is just and proper; so also his orders promoting Nayak to the rank of senior subeditor.
In this peculiar situation, even though his case against illegal termination has earned competent recommendation for adjudication, Nayak had been to the Samaja Office to join his job without any prejudice to his dispute. The illicit occupiers have framed him up in a false case by using a police officer since long in their pocket. And, the lady subeditor who has discernible antagonism with Sri Nayak has raised some such allegations against Sri Nayak and Braja Bhai that the S.D.J.M. (S), Cuttack had to reject their bail application with a note that the alleged offense was grave.
What the lady subeditor has said? From the order sheet it transpires that both Braja Bhai and Sri Nayak “pulled her saree, caught hold of her, squeezed her breast and assaulted her, for which she sustained severe injuries on her head and her left of body”. The magistrate has not heard the accused persons and hence, whether the accusation is correct or concocted is yet to be known. But, if any such misbehavior took place, it must have happened in presence of others as on “getting information, when she went to the spot”, the accused persons had “pulled her saree, caught hold of her, squeezed her breast and assaulted her”.
From whom she got information and why she alone “went to the spot” and what was “the spot”? The order sheet is silent about it when the case also involved the issue of fundamental right to freedom of Sri Nayak and Braja Bhai.
The order sheet mentions that “although a case u/ss 341/323/447/294/506/34 IPC was registered, the accused persons were forwarded to the court u/ss 341/323/294/354/506/447/34 IPC”. Was this difference between the two positions an act of normal finding or deliberate coining? The court has not tried to find that out though the bail applications stands on the question of fundamental right to freedom and liberty. The basis of the case is the written report of the General Manager of the Samaja, as the court has noted. In the said report, there is no mention that Braja bhai and Sri Nayak “pulled her saree, caught hold of her, squeezed her breast”, From the body of the “written report” it transpires that after the report was written, a sentence i.e. “Mamata Bisoi, sub Editor has been assaulted severely”. Why this sentence was not in the originally written report and why was it inserted? And, thus visibly clumsily? Was it an act of after-thought to falsely implicate Braja Bhai and Nayak in a offense that they have never committed? When the issue involved fundamental right to freedom and liberty, was it not proper to study this aspect?
On perusal of the order sheet that has denied bail to Braja Bhai and Sri Nayak, I find that the magistrate has not given a complete meaning to the sentence that follows the sentence “Getting information, when she went to the spot, the present accused persons “pulled her saree, caught hold of her, squeezed her breast and assaulted her, for which she sustained severe injuries on her head and her left of body”. The said meaningless sentence is “her the medical examination”. Why the magistrate has noted such a meaningless sentence? Was it written in a hurry?
In matter of issues involving fundamental right to freedom and liberty, even if the issue is raised by an accused, no decision should be taken in a hurry. And orders of rejection of bail should evolve on ascertainment that the accusation is prima facie free of possible doubts, antagonism and motive.
Without any prejudice to the case in question, we have reason to believe that Braja Bhai and Devi Prasanna Nayak have been subjected to a cooked up case where a lady subeditor with history of antagonism against Sri Nayak has been used by illicit occupiers of the Samaja with ulterior motive.