Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Bhasha Andolan wishes that the Assembly makes the Orissa Official Language Act completely flawless, so that, governance of Orissa in its entirety – both in Government and Private offices – becomes an absolute, unavoidable and invincible must.
The bureaucracy is conspiring to frustrate its demand for punishment to whoever foils or tries to foil the very purpose of creation of Orissa.
Orissa was created for the single purpose of use of Oriya in every office within the State.
The struggle of our people to get the services in Oriya is recapitulated in my book available online in scribd.com since 2009 and for those who cannot visit this portal, it’s printed edition may be obtained from A. K. Mishra Agencies, Roxy Lane, Badambadi, Cuttack-9. It has proved that Orissa was created for the single purpose of being served in Oriya language and nothing else.
So, whosoever does not work in Oriya is an annihilator of the very purpose of creation of the State, and deserves to be punished severely by the people of Orissa.
This is why, when nominated to the Ministerial Committee on “working” of the Orissa Official Language Act, I had, on September 3,2015, submitted a draft legislation to amend the Act to punish whosoever doesn’t work in Oriya and disobeys the Act.
After long two years and seven months of my submission of the draft legislation, thanks to Bhasha Andolan, Orissa, the State Government is going to place the Bill for this purpose in the current session of the Legislative Assembly. But it is allegedly pregnant with such a shrewd design that despite the amendment, offenders would escape punishment. Therefore the law-makers, particularly whosoever MLA is loyal to Orissa, needs to study the evolution of this amendment before debating over it.
It has proceeded through three states.
STAGE NUMBER ONE
IN my draft dated Sept.3, 2015, I had suggested that a new Section, numbered as Section-4, be added to the Act of 1954. It wanted the State Government to make two provisions in the amendment, if my suggestion was accepted.
Firstly, the nomenclature of The Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 should be changed and the Act be renamed as ‘The Odisha Public Language Act, 1954” (Sub-Section (1) of my proposed Section-4) .
Secondly , “the State Government may make Rules for carrying out all or any of the purposes of this Act or for due enforcement of any or all provisions of this Act or for enlarging the scope or purpose of this Act and/or for providing punishment for the violation of any provision of this Act” (Sub-Section (2) of my proposed Section 4)
When Sub-Section (1) of my draft was aimed at expanding the scope of the Act to all official and non-official concerns of Orissa as well as to include all regional words like Koshli, Sambalpuri, Jalesvari, Ganjami, Deshia,Garjatia, Adibasia etc to ensure that administrative, judicial and commercial services are available to all the Oriyas in the mother tongue, the Sub-Section (2) was aimed at bestowing upon the Government the power to make Rules to punish the offenders of the Act and to drive it ahead.
STAGE NUMBER TWO
IN fidgets over the suggested penal prosecution in my draft, following its publication in the official website www.odia.odisha.gov.in, the anti-Oriya elements in administration prevailed upon the Chief Minister to drift away from his declaration (December 14, 2015) in the Assembly that the proposed amendment was on the anvil.
The CM rendered the Ministerial Committee inconsequential, the arbitrariness of which is nowhere witnessed in any responsible government. I decided to go to the street with my tested method of silent black-flag march for mass awakening, to which, after strong initial reluctance,my supporters in clearing Madhubabu’s podium from political nuisance, finally agreed and pledged their support to the draft legislation noted above.
Oriya linguistic nationalism took rebirth in a very unique pattern under the Black-Flag of this movement that commenced on April 13, 2016 , wherein who’s who of Oriya stalwarts participated with pride over the resurgence of Oriya nationalism.
The glorious campaign constantly hitting the nerve center of administration in Bhubaneswar for 39 days forced the egoistic government to bend down for the first time in its history and the CM told his party in the forenoon of May 21, 2016 that the amendment shall be brought in the next session of the Assembly, while requesting the Andolan through various channels to call off its Black-Flag campaign in view of the assurance. We demanded that the amendment be brought in through Ordinance. And, the Ordinance was promulgated in the night. Section 4 of the aforesaid draft proposal was compressed into section 5 when a new provision to dilute the draft Rules I had given and Bhasha Andolan was espousing, was inserted into the Act in that Ordinance. this Ordinance was later replaced with a regular law without application of required legislative mind. These two sections were:
Section 4. The State Government may, within such period, in such manner and by such
authority, as may be prescribed in the Rules made under this Act, review and
monitor whether the direction contained in the Notification issued under Sub-
Section (2) of Section 2 has been effectively implemented. And,
Section 5. The State Government may make Rules to carry out the purpose of the Act.
Thus, when the Government got itself educated from Section-4 of my draft that, Rules must have to be made to carry out the purpose of the Act, and yet it had no power to make the Rules, it created Section 5 to acquire that power, exactly as I had suggested on September 3, 2015,in Section 4(2) of my draft.
But the new Section 4 was full of ambiguity inasmuch as there was no word on how should they be treated whom the “review and monitor” mechanism would find guilty of contravention of the Act. The CM told the Press that all obstacles to work in Oriya will be removed with the Rules to be framed by August 15, 2016.
Relying upon the CM’s oral clarification before the media, the Black-Flag campaign was put on hold till that date. But to its shock, the Rule made a farce of legislation. It only created provisions for a Committee to be comprised with the Chief Secretary and five other departmental secretaries as ex-officio members to (a) hold the meeting of the Committee at least twice in a year and (b) prepare the report regarding effective implementation within a period of two months from the date of holding the meeting and to submit the same to the government within a period of one month after the preparation.”
Bhasha Andolan rightly rejected this farce and resumed the Black-Flag Campaign with effect from August 16, 2016. That the so-called Orissa Official Language Rules, 2016 was stillborn needs no proof, as it is hidden from the Assembly as yet and no meeting, no report, as mentioned in its body, is yet on records.
STAGE NUMBER THREE
As the entire Oriya nation woke up and Black-Flag Campaigns hit the roads in different important places all over Orissa, the Chief Minister invited meto find out a solution. I took with me two of my close colleagues to participate in the discussion.
We apprised him of how a joke has been played with the nation of the Oriyas in insertion of Section 4 and creation of committee under that section to monitor and review the working of the Act with no mention of what action would be taken over its find.
We made it clear that, empowering the offenders to “review and monitor” their own offenses would never do anything other than suppression of the same.
Whether or not the Chief Minister understood what I said in Oriya, we do not know. But it was quite amusing to note that Chairman of the mysteriously extinct Ministerial Committee (former Minister) Debi Prasad Mishra, incumbent Minister Prafulla Samal and Rajya Sabha member P. K. Dev, who were present during the discussion, were translating me to him in English.
On being informed orally of the CM’s desire to discuss the matter with me, when waiting for a formal written invitation, I had prepared a written submission wherein a new draft was advanced to replace the Section 4 that was mischievously inserted into the Act in 2016 as noted above
The CM was apprised of how “Section 4 inserted by 2016 amendment of the Odisha Official Language Act,1954 was inherently deficient to remove the obstacles from the way of governance of Odisha in Odia.” We demanded that, the said deficient Section 4 be replaced with the following:
“The State Government may, in such manner and by such authority, as may be prescribed in the Rules made under this Act, receive complains from the general public of Odisha in matter of contravention of the Act and over and above such complaints, without prejudice to their entitlement to prosecute, suo motto review and monitor whether the directions contained in the Notification under Sub-Section (2) of Section 2 are contravened and subject the offender to punishment stipulated in the Rules.”
Sadly, the CM didn’t act diligently. The scheming bureaucracy, averse to my proposed punishment against failure to serve the people in Oriya language, made the CM sleep over my Memo. I continued to expose in the daily Surjyaprava the details of how the subterfuge against our mother tongue was perpetrated by Biju Patnaik, the father of the CM, in 1963, which embarrassed the fellows basking under the banner of the party named after the same Biju Patnaik and the CM was under pressure from his party men to accept the demand of Bhasha Andolan. To give a message to the public that he was not against Oriya Language, the extraordinary Cabinet meeting at Puri on 23.12.2017 adopted as many as 20 resolutions centering around our language, including one for amendment of the Act to punish the erring officials/departments for non-working in Oriya to certain extent. This resolution was shrewdly worded to render the Act inconsequential, while impressing the people with elements of punishment against the offenders. I exposed the mischief threadbare and Bhasha Andolan rejected the Resolution. However, once the CM’s purpose of convincing his followers that he was not against their mother tongue was fulfilled, the said resolution was abandoned and forced to die under the time tag. Many members of the Cabinet personally apprised by me of the situation, understood the shrewd design and hence, another Cabinet meeting was held on 14.4.2018 that virtually killed the collapsed resolution of 26.12.2017 and adopted a new resolution mostly matching our emphasis.
But, it is highly disturbing that the amendment on the anvil is designed to be clubbed with the collapsed resolution of 26.12.2017 instead of the resolution of 14.3.2018. It would be suicidal, if true.
WHAT THE MLAs SHOULD DO NOW
This is going to happen, because, the political government is behaving as subservient to the executive government. Instead of replacing Section 4 with the draft I had given to the CM on May 19, 2017, addition of a new Section numbered as 4-A is proposed in the amendment on anvil, wherein, according to my sources, the ingredient of punishment would be kept to give the impression that failure to work in Oriya shall attract penal action, while wording the amendment as per the resolution adopted by the Cabinet at Puri. Government hopes that the Bhasha Andolan would stop its campaign with this amendment.
At the outset it would certainly appear as a victory of the Bhasha Andolan. But, we may reject it, if the resolution of 14.3.2018 is not adhered to and if the people of Orissa are not given the power to sue anybody in case of non-performance in Oriya.
The amendment on the anvil would have a very unwanted mischief to reward whosoever extensively works in Oriya. When under the Law it would be the duty of the fellows in service – be it Political or Executive , Governmental or Commercial – to render their services to the people entirely in Oriya, why should at all be any of them be rewarded for extensive use of our language in work? Is it not the same as rewarding whosoever doesn’t work in Oriya to the entire extent the Act has mandated?
Bhasha Andolan would look deeply into this mischief and take a correct decision in time.
As far as my information goes, with such a reward provision, the expanded Section 4 , i.e. Section 4-A, shall just breath punishment to be spelt out in the Rules. But in this new Section (4-A), if that is so, there would be no power given to the people of Orissa to sue the offenders of the Official Language Act.
Unless the people are given the right to sue whosoever foils of the purpose of the creation of their beloved province, as is the wont of the fellows that have habitually violated the Act till date and have tried to obstruct the required amendment of the Act so far, shall never sue the offenders.
Thus, despite the Law amended, if the amendment materializes this session of the Assembly, Orissa shall not be governed in Oriya as a must, as the castles of administration manned by men of anglicized mentality, would continue to suppress the offenses of violation of the Act, as they have been doing since creation of the Act in 1954, and specifically since the mandatory Notification was promulgated as far back as in 1968 and further in 1985 and Rules created in 2016.
As representatives of the people of Orissa in the Legislative Assembly, our MLAs irrespective of party affiliations, should rise to the occasion and ensure that the amendment becomes flawless with unambiguous empowerment of the people to sue anybody who fails to work in Oriya. The draft legislation, which I had handed over to the CM on May 19, 2017, as quoted supra, should be the touchstone for the purpose of the proposed amendment and if the proposed amendment does not have the provision to empower the people to sue the offenders, to bring the same thereinto through their own amendment motions.
This amendment being very urgent and important for governance of Orissa in Oriya, our MLAs should see that the Assembly takes up the matter, if moved, and adopt with necessary corrections as suggested by Bhasha Andolan. The information about clubbing the amendment with resolution of 26.12.2017 instead of the resolution of 14.3.2018 should also be kept in mind while considering the Bill.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT MUST ENSURE
If the Government have not yet made the Bill to amend the Odisha Official Language Act by replacement of Section 4 or by addition of a new Section such as Section 4-A., before placing it before the Assembly, it should review the draft of the Bill and ensure that power is given therein to the general public of Orissa to sue whosoever contravenes the Act without any prejudice to the Government’s power to prosecute; and, simultaneous with enforcement of the amendment, the Rules advanced in STAGE NUMBER ONE be adopted and accordingly, as suggested in Rule 11.1 thereof, the “Language Committee” comprising a judicial officer not below the rank of an Assistant Sessions Judge and a Professor in Oriya, in other words a “Language Court”, be appointed to prosecute the persons not working in Oriya and/or indulged in defeating the purpose of creation of Orissa. And, most importantly, the CM shall have to ensure that the latest resolution on our language, i.e. resolution of 14.3.2018 is adhered to; because, my information suggests that functionaries of anti-Oriya mentality in the Secretariat and / or the Cabinet are going to play tricks.
The other thing the Government must ensure is that, the proposed amendment with empowerment of the people to sue the offenders of the Official Language Act is timely circulated amongst the members, moved in the Assembly and adopted. The Assembly should not be adjourned before the day appointed for placing and passing of the proposed amendment of the Act. Simultaneously, it is my request to the Chief Minister to study and take appropriate steps to adopt my draft Rules in its entirety as quickly as possible in interest of the people of Orissa. The same is in odia.odisha.gov.in created by the Government for governance of Orissa in Oriya.
Our Assembly being the ultimate authority in matter of legislation should see to it that the State Government does not kill or atrophy our Official Language Act that gives us our right to be served in Oriya in the sphere of governance and in every matter of management of our affairs. Hence, while adopting the Bill, as and when it comes for passing, we wish the Assembly to make it flawless, so that, the purpose for which Orissa was created, doesn’t get defeated.