Official Language officially mutilated: Will the Chief Minister please respond?

Roving Reporter

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has wilfully mutilated the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 by way of two successive amendments in 2018. This has rendered inconsequential the very purpose of creation of Orissa as a linguistic State.

Founder of Bhasha Andolan, Orissa Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak has emailed him on 11th January 2019 to correct his wrong. The CM has not yet responded.  The email is shared below with the people of Orissa, as the Assembly is scheduled to commence its session on the 4th of February.

 

Hon’ble Sri Naveen Patnaik,

Chief Minister

Sub: Orissa Official Language Act mutilated through Amendment, 2018: Request for re-amendment to do away with the defects and for action against the Officer(s) responsible for rendering even the Hon’ble Chief Minister inconsequential

Ref: Cabinet Resolution Dated 14.3.2018 on Orissa Official Language Act, 1954

Noble Sir,

At the risk of repetition apropos my mail dated 29.6. 2018, may it be recalled that, you were kind enough to nominate me as a member to the Ministerial Committee on implementation of the Odisha Official Language Act, 1954. In that capacity, I had conducted a deep research into why the Act, being de jure in force since 1954, was de facto defunct and found out the following defects in the body of the Act, enforced on 14.10.1954:

1. The Government was not empowered in the Act to frame Rules to implement the Act; and

2. There was no provision of punishment against contravention of the Act.

Accordingly, I had given my advice on 3.9.2015 with draft outlines of two legislation – one, for empowering the Government to frame the Rules and the other, for provision of punishment against non-use of Oriya as official language.

I am personally grateful to you for your ultimate acceptance of the above two advices and for amendment of the Act accordingly.

The 1st advice was implemented in Ordinance dated 21.5.2016, later given the Law form in Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2016.

The 2nd one was given a form of Law in the Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2018 by insertion of Section 4-A.

But, Sir, under the guise of this noble work, assented to by the Governor on 23.6.2018, mischief was played to kill the very purpose of the Act and the purpose of the creation of the State of Odisha as well, as it was deliberately linked to Cabinet Resolution dated 26.12.2017, which had proposed to reduce the scope of the Act with other highly objectionable ingredients.

In my mail dated 29.6.2018, I had urged upon you to repeal this notorious Section and to please restore the Act to its original form by making a fresh amendment with flawless provision of punishment for its violation. I quote from the said mail for your ready reference here below:

The State Cabinet met again under your Presidentship on 14.3.2018. It superseded the defective Resolution dated 26.12.2017 on the Act and, almost entirely agreeing to our demand, it made it clear that for nonworking in Oriya, only the erring employee and official will be punished, not the Department. In complete acceptance of our argument it resolved, “as there is no provision for imposing penalty against the Officers and employees who are violating the provisions of the notifications under the Act, Government have decided to bring the amendment immediately providing penalties for such erring Officers and employees…so that they will implement the provisions of the notification in its letter and spirit” (Para 2 and 3 of the Press Note of the GA & PG Department, dated 14.3.2018).

But, Sir, your above noble decision has been rendered inconsequential in the amendment drafted by bureaucracy and adopted by the Assembly, for reasons detailed below:

Firstly, the Statement of Object and Reasons of the Amendment do not carry the Reasons spelt out in the above quoted resolution of the Cabinet meeting presided over by you on 14.3.2018. It is based on the superseded resolution of 26.12.2017, completely suppressing the resolution dated 14.3.2018.

Secondly, while illegally using the superseded resolution dated 26.12.2017, the officer concerned has also tampered with the said resolution. When, even that Resolution had laid down that for nonuse of Oriya the Department AND the employees will be suitably punished, the amendment, claiming to have been based on that resolution, provides for punishment to employees OR Department, which is blatantly unauthorized and illegal.

Thirdly, the scope of the Act originally covering the whole of Orissa and all and every Office in the State of Orissa, the amendment has reduced this scope to “extensive use of Oriya Language”, which clearly means that the Act will not be used in whole of Orissa and in all and every office in the State. No amendment can kill the basic purpose of the Act.

Thus Sir, your intention to amend the Act to make it flawless for implementation of the Act “in its letter and spirit” has been brutally done away with by the mandarins while drafting the amendment.

These gross mistakes were overlooked by the Minister Mr. Arukh who moved the Bill in your absence and who just read out the reply to the debate as obviously prepared by the scheming mandarin that had drafted the amendment with a deliberate design against the people of Orissa.”

Obviously, no serious attention was paid to this mail, as a result of which, attempts were made to enforce this illegality on the people of Odisha and their language in Odisha Official Language (Second Amendment) Act, 2018.

This amendment is illegal on the following two grounds:

(1) It has legalized the tampering of the Cabinet resolution of 26.12.2017 while retaining the word OR; and

(2) It has kept the notorious Section 4-A alive, which being based on the resolution of 26.12.2017, over and above the numbers of mischief detailed above, puts the implementation of the Act under the mercy of the departments.

Under the circumstances, I request you to be pleased to please repeal Section 4-A along with Section 3-A from the Odisha Official Language Act in the coming session of the Assembly and to please bring in fresh amendment to quantify the punishment for contravention of Act, as per the Cabinet resolution of 14.3.2018. I also request you to quantify the punishment for contravention of the Official Language Act, as has been done in the Odisha Shops and Commercial Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2018.

Let us the people of Odisha feel that anglicized bureaucracy is not making a farce of the noble decision of our Hon’ble Chief Minister in the matter of our Official Language.

Yours,

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Founder of Bhasha Andolan, Orissa

11.1.2019

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