BEST OF CELEBRATION OF MAY DAY IN BHUBANESWAR: SSF LAUNCHED ‘SAMAJA IN THE MAZE OF FORGERY’

May Day had the best of celebration in Bhubaneswar as an exploited employee of Orissa’s premier daily ‘The Samaja’ Sri Gagan Parida launched a milestone book on forgery, corruption and exploitation of workers in the major news daily, the founders of which were the most revered humanitarian leaders known as Panchasakha of Satyabadi, headed by Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das.

Book CoverThe book is ‘Samaja in Maze of Forgery’. It is a compilation of articles of Journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak published in orissamatters.com. President of Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association (UNEA), journalist Deviprasanna Nayak has compiled it.

The book has exposed how two former ministers of the State, one of who was the paper’s longest time editor, and being so, had bagged India’s third highest civilian honor – Padma Bhusana, had forged the Will of Utkalmani Pt. Gopabandhu Das to grab the ‘Samaja’ under cover of the Servants of the People Society (SoPS) and how since then the illegal occupiers of the renowned paper have been exploiting the workforce in blatant violation of industrial/labor laws by way of corrupting the State Administration and misusing the process of Law.

Subhas Chandra PattanayakIn introducing the book, author Subhas Chandra Pattanayak alleged that two former education ministers – Lingaraj Mishra and Radhanath Rath – had forged the Will of Pandit Gopabandhu to grab the Samaja under cover of the SoPS and had pushed the pride of Orissa – The JATIYA BANA VIDYALAYA to starvation death.

The book further exposes, he said, how a later editor of Samaja, Ms. Manorama Mahapatra, daughter of Radhanath Rath, had also forged the signature of a sub-editor to deny him his legitimate rank and salaries.

The book exposes how huge amount of rupees are swindled from the revenue of the Samaja by the Servants of the People Society, by using a forged Will of Gopabandhu and how the Registrar of Newspapers for India is sleeping over the allegation of ‘Save the Samaja Forum’, and how the District Judge office at Cuttack was used as a ‘breeding bed of forgery’ by the illegal occupiers of the Samaja.

The book is full of documentary evidences of the serious crimes committed by Radhanath Rath who was editor of the Samaja till his death and other two editors and members of the Servants of the People Society.

The book mentions how the workers are perishing under unfair labor practices, without getting regularized even after serving the major daily newspaper for more than 30 years, he said.

gagan paridaOne such worker is Sri Gagan Parida. He has been pushed into instant termination of his thirty years long continuous service, the moment he urged upon the management to designate him as a regular employee so that he could draw the benefits available under the labor laws. Like him. About 20 persons who had been working everyday regularly for decades in hope of regularization of their services have been summarily dismissed as they wanted to be regularized.

Save the Samaja Forum (SSF) that has published the book preferred to launch the book in the hands of Parida as he is the man who has worked in the paper for the longest period without being regularized.

Release of the book

Held in Lohia Academy auditorium with joint convener of SSF, eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik in the chair, the meeting was addressed by Subartta editor Pradyumna Satapathy, Samadrusti editor Sudhir Patnaik and eminent author and founder editor of Chithi, political scientist Prof. Biswaranjan.

Adhyapak BiswaranjanProf. Biswaranjan called upon the Government to initiate action against the SoPS and retrieve from it all the money it has taken from the Samaja revenue for revival of the Bana Vidyalaya, as suggested in the book, without any loss of time, as publication of the Will of Gopabandhu that the occupiers of the Samaja are using in all official forums along with the signed probated copy of the real Will, has established that the occupier of the Samaja have forged and have been using the forged Will of Gopabandhu.

Sudhir Patnaik

 

Sri Sudhir Patnaik expressed absolute solidarity with SSF and demanded that in view of the exposure, the State Government should take prompt action against the miscreants and stop the Samaja from being further looted by unauthorized people.

Pradyumna SatapathyA single moment should not be lost, roared Sri Pradyumna Satapathy, in punishing the fellows that have evidently forged the Will of Gopabandhu and have swindled till date the revenue of the paper, while keeping the employees intimidated under hire and fire policy. He expressed total solidarity with the SSF in the noble cause and warned the intellectuals of the state that future will not pardon if despite publication of the irrefutable evidences of forgery, they stay silent spectators. He called upon the State Government to wake up to the occasion and save the icon paper of the State, founded by the noblest of noble souls like Utkalmani Gopabandhu and is four friend collectively famous as the Panchasakhas of Satyabadi.

Felicitations were offered to two great fighters from amongst the workers of the Samaja. They are Sahid Ramesh Chandra Patnaik and Sangrami Pitambar Mishra.

L.Senapari for Ramesh Patnaik

Sahid Ramesh Chandra Patnaik was summarily dismissed after putting up two decades long service without any allegation or charges. The labor officer had recommended his case for adjudication in the Industrial Tribunal. But, misusing media power, the government was dissuaded to refer his case to the tribunal. Industrial Disputes Act stipulates that no labor court of Industrial Tribunal can take cognizance of an Industrial Dispute unless referred to by the Government. Thus disadvantaged, Patnaik had gone to civil court that found the action of the management illegal. But instead of acting an ideal employer, the management knocked down the case in the Orissa High Court and forced the poor worker to seek justice, if he could, in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court struck down the High Court order and awarded a sum of Rs.2,000,00/- to be paid by the management within two months. But by then, Patnaik had passed away under slow starvation. To his co-workers, he became a martyr in the long battle for justice. So, on the occasion, he was felicitated posthumously. On his behalf, President of Cuttack District Journalists Association, Lalatendu Senapati received the felicitation.

felicitation_Pitambar Mishra

The second worker to be felicitated was Journalist Pitambar Mishra. He was a sub-editor whom without issuing any appointment letter, the management was using in reporting the evening and night city of Cuttack, over and above his desk job in daytime. After putting up eleven years of service, when he prayed to be regularized as a sub-editor in which rank he was originally engaged, he was summarily dismissed. His case, however, was referred to the Labor Court, Bhubaneswar. But, the management challenged the maintainability of the case under the plea that he was not an employee of the Samaja. The management, to the horror of Mishra, produced an agreement in a stamp paper where Mishra’s relation with Samaja was “principal to principal”, not employee to employer. Ms. Manorama Mohapatra had signed the agreement on first part and Mishra was shown to have signed it as the second part. Mishra challenged it as a forged agreement produced by the management to deny him his dues. His disputed signature was sent by the Court to the State Handwriting Expert and Forensic investigation established that Mishra’s signature was forged. With such clear evidence of forgery committed by the management, the reference went in favor of Mishra and because by then he had exceeded the superannuation age. Instead of ordering for his reinstatement, the Court commuted his legitimate dues and asked the management to pay the same immediately. But, the habitually litigant management has challenged the Labor Court award in the High Court, forcing Mishra to suffer starvation. The SSF, therefore, decided to felicitate Mishra for the fighting spirit he has displayed against exploitation by the powerful media house.

From the audience, strong supports were expressed with Tusarkant, a known conscience-keeper who shares his original thinking with the society writing prolifically in the media, stressing upon speedy but planned action against the wrongdoers.

Devi Prasanna NayakPresident of Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association, well-known desk-journalist Devi Prasanna Nayak detailed how internecine rivalry amongst the members of SoPS, which has evidently kept the Samaja under unauthorized occupation, has demoralized the workers and how the dedicated employees of the Samaja have been subjected to concocted cases and stage-managed enquiries and illegal dismissals.

Prasanta PatnaikPresident Sri Prasanta Patnaik announced that the SSF shall stand with the employees of the Samaja in their battle against exploitation and called upon the Government to initiate penal action against members of SoPS who are yet using the forged Will of Gopabandhu for their personal and collective benefit. The SSF campaign shall continue till SoPS is ousted from ownership of Samaja and the paper of the people is retrived from illegal ownership. He thanks the employees of the Samaja for their principled fight and called upon all labor unions to stand with the employees of the Samaja in their days of stark disadvantage. He called upon the RNI to peruse the exposure of forgery made in the released book of Subhas Pattanayak and deregister immediately the SoPS as owner of the Samaja.

photo(20)

 

Coordinator of SSF Pabitra Mohan Maharatha coordinated the event.

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Daily Samaj in hands of Devils: Sub-Editor’s Signature Forged to Derail Labor Adjudication; High Court Used to Keep Him Starved

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I am shocked to see that the Orissa High Court is used by illegal occupiers of the daily Samaj to keep a working journalist starved, even though the competent Labor Court had awarded him the relief of reinstatement with full back wages and the High Court had also ruled that the award was proper and justified.

The matter may be viewed as a classic instance of abortion of rule of law in the citadel of law, when lawyers fail to apprise the Court of the real position of law on one part, and on the other, pursue a design to hoodwink the court with misleading legal jargons and junks.

It would be helpful to have the minimum introduction on the case of the concerned journalist – Sub-Editor-cum-Reporter of the Samaj – Pitamber Mishra, now above 72 years.

Here below is a chronology-
1. He was subjected to constant unfair labor practice since 1986;
2. He was summarily dismissed as he wanted legitimate wages in 1997;
3. Two backdated documents were manufactured, one an agreement with his forged signature to derail his dispute in the Labor Court when the State Government sent his case for adjudication in 1998;
4. He challenged the manufactured agreement and was made to cough up a heavy sum of money for examination of his signature on the same;
5. The ‘Examiner of Questioned Documents’ in the Handwriting Bureau, Crime Branch, Orissa was asked by the Labor Court to examine the disputed signature vide letter No. 1615/LC stated 25.9.2010;
6. The Examiner opined that the disputed signature was not the signature of Pitambar Mishra;
7. Thus the forgery committed by the management established, the Labor Court declared the dismissal illegal and unjustified and warded the relief of reinstatement in service with full back wages with effect from the date of dismissal; but compounded his dues in terms of money in lieu of reinstatement with full back wages as he had crossed the superannuating age during pendency of the case on 21,2,2013;
8. The management challenged the award in the Orissa High Court in a Writ Petition, which was rejected on hearing on 30.4.2014 with the conclusion that the Labor Court award was proper and justified;
9. Instead of implementing the Labor Court award as improved by the High Court, the management has used the High Court to keep the journalist in starvation taking advantage of Law that provides for a Writ Appeal and the suffering journalist’s inability to wake up the judicial conscience.

The poor man is now 72+ and is under slow starvation as the High Court has allowed the management the luxury of misusing the forums of law to torture the workman.

Heritage of Crime

Orissa’s iconic newspaper -The Samaja – co-founded by Utkalmani Pt. Gopabandhu Das, is being published under illegitimate ownership, as proved in these pages.

Radhanath Rath – a low paid servant of Gopabandhu, who could bag a Padmabhusan over and above legislative and ministerial berths as well as Lingaraj Mishra, a, “easygoing” protege of Gopabandhu, who could also occupy ministerial positions due to the media power of the Samaja, had tampered with and finally forged a will of Gopabandhu to hijack the newspaper, which has already been shown in these pages with relevant documents.

But the conduct of crime seen in these two fellows did not end in their death in the context of the newspaper. It seems, they have handed over a heritage of crime to their successors in the Samaja.

In these pages I have shown how the funds of the paper are being looted through forged documents. Now I will show, how Radhanath Rath’s daughter Ms. Manorama Mahapatra, a retired higher education teacher, who succeeded her father as Associate Editor – cum – Member (administration) of the establishment, forged the signature of the above mentioned sub-editor-cum-news reporter to deny him his legitimate position and salaries.

Calculated Exploitation

The Samaja was in need of a sub-editor and the management recruited Pitambar Mishra for the post in 1986.

But, he was neither given written order of appointment nor due salary.

Accounts section of the Samaja paid him only Rs.250/- at the end of the month and advised him to stay content with this amount till regularization of his appointment or enhancement of the amount of ad hoc pay, whichever would be earlier.

Formal appointment letter would be issued to him when he earns a regular status, he was told.

He was made to understand that Radhanath Rath was the SARBESARBA (all-in-one) in the Samaja system and he must not dare to irritate him with any demand for appointment letter and salary in time scale.

When Rath will be satisfied with his work, everything would be normal and there shall be regular appointment with salary as per Wage Board, he was told.

The Samaja being the highest circulated daily of the State and, as Rath, equipped with media power, was making the government dance to his tune, Pitamber could not dare to do anything but acquiescing into the situation with a hope for regularization of his employment, as to him, such a ‘big personality’ like Rath could not be an exploiter.

But, Rath was an exploiter in real sense. He asked him to report Cuttack City along with his desk job without any hike in the ad hoc pay even, in a way of calculated exploitation.

Footprints of Exploitation

After rendering service for five years in both the field and desk sectors, Pitambar submitted a representation to management in 1989 for confirmation either in the post of Sub-Editor or in the post of Reporter with regular salary. The management ignored his representation for around two years and simply increased the amount of his ad hoc pay to Rs.600/- per month in 1991. He insisted that he should be regularized in service with salary as per Wage Board.

His representation was finally placed before the executive body of Servants of the People Society, which has illegally occupied the paper, on 22.3.1994. The minutes of that meeting records, “The Executive Secretary gave applications of Upendra, retired from Advertisement Section, P.C.Sarkar, Correspondent and Pitamber Mishra, Sub-Editor for comments”. It made it clear that Mishra was mainly the Sub-Editor. But, instead of confirming him, the management only enhanced his ad hoc salary to Rs.780/- in 1994. His representation for confirmation continued to be ignored.

Dispute before Labor Authorites

Severely injured both professionally and financially, as the management was not paying any heed to his grievances, Pitamber moved the labor law implementation machinery for intervention. The District Labor Officer, Cuttack, issued notice to the management on 25.8.1997 asking for their views on Sri Mishra’s demand for regularization of employment with retrospective effect along with all consequential benefits.

Illegal Termination

Mishra’s dispute before the labor authorities enraged the management to such ferocity that they terminated his service immediately on receiving the labor officer’s notice. In the history of the Samaja under illegal occupiers, no employee has ever been tolerated after raising a dispute before the labor authorities against harassment. So, Mishra was prevented from entering into the campus of the Samaja on 7,9,1997 with the gate keeper informing him that his services had been terminated. As he wanted the termination order, the general manager came to the gate and told him that his services were no more required. Pitambar’s request for the written order, if any, to that effect, was also turned down orally by the GM.

The affected workman moved the DLO for intervention and then,legally, his pending dispute for confirmation in service metamorphosed to an Industrial Dispute over illegal termination.

Reference to Labor Court

The Samaja management remained recalcitrant and the case landed in the Labor Court vide Order No.15552/LE dated 31.12.1998 of the State Government with the following term of reference:

“Whether the termination of services of Sri Pitambar Mishra Sub-Editor/News Reporter by the management of “The Samaj” with effect from 7.9.97 is legal and/or justified? If not, to what relief Sri Mishra is entitled?”

Manufactured agreement
with forged Signature

When the Labor Court registered the Industrial Dispute and initiated adjudication, the management of Samaja challenged the maintainability thereof by producing an agreement to show that there was no employer-employee relationship between it and Sri Mishra. The harassed journalist, to his horror found that not only the agreement was manufactured to suit the nefarious motive of the management, but also the signature purported to be his on the body of the manufactured agreement was also manufactured. He vehemently objected to depiction of a forged signature as his on the forged agreement. The management claimed that signature of the workman was genuine.

Instead of asking the management to establish genuineness of the signature disowned by the workman, the Labor Court asked the abysmally low-paid workman to deposit a very heavy amount of money as cost of handwriting examination, which was bend the capacity of the workman to arrange. As he failed to attend the Court with the money he was asked to deposit, the said court answered the reference in favor of the management, in the line the management had wanted.

The blatantly disadvantaged journalist moved the High Court of Orissa seeking quashing of the rash order of the Labor court. The High Court quashed the order and directed the Labor Court Presiding Officer to recall his order and to send the disputed signature of Mishra along with his specimen signatures to the State Handwriting Bureau for opinion of the handwriting examiner on genuineness or not of the signature on the questioned agreement.

Accordingly the award was recalled by the Labor Court. The poor workman coughed up the heavy amount of cost of signature examination. The Judge of the Labor Court collected his specimen signatures in presence of the lawyer of the management and sent the same with the disputed signature to the Examiner of Disputed Documents, CID,CB,HWB, Orissa, for examination. The handwriting expert found that the signature on the agreement paper was at all of Pitamber Mishra. His report was submitted by the S.P., CID, CB, HWB under cover of letter No. DP 26-19/530/HWB dt. 25.6.2011.

As the signature of Sri Mishra on the agreement filed by management was found to be forged, the agreement was rejected by the Labor Court and employer-employee relationship was established and termination of his services was determined to be illegal and unjustified in the award of the Labor Court.

Award of the Labor Court

The Labor Court, in its award dated 21.3.2013, answered the questions raised under the reference in the the following term: “That the termination of services of Sri Pitambar Mishra, Sub-Editor/News Reporter by the management “The Samaj” with effect from 7.9.97 is neither legal or justified”.

“Regarding the relief is concerned”, the Labor Court said, “the workman has examined himself as W.W.1 on 4.6.2001 and in his evidence, he has deposed that his age is 58 years. So considering the above version and admission of the workman, he is now about 70 years old. Therefore, it is not wise to direct the management for reinstatement of the workman in service. But at the same time, the workman had rendered service under the management for about 11 years and in the meantime, the case is lingering from the year 1999, i.e. for about 14 years. So considering the age, status and his tenure in duties, I am of the considered view that instead of giving direction for reinstatement in service with back wages, a lump sum amount of Rs.2,50,ooo/- as compensation will meet the end of justice in the facts and circumstances of this case”.

Thus saying, the Labor Court ordered that “The workman is entitled to get a lump sum amount of Rs.2,50,000/- only as compensation in lieu of reinstatement in service with back wages. The management is directed to implement this Award within a period of two months from the date of its publication, failing, the amount shall carry interest at the rate of 10% (ten per cent) per annum till its realization”.

Thus this is a clear, unambiguous and emphatic Award of reinstatement in service with full back wages.

High Court did not see Sec 17B of I.D.Act

The illegal occupiers of the Samaja preferred a Writ Petition in the Orissa High Court against this Award, which was registered as W.P.(C) N0.14183 of 2013.

The Writ Petition should have been rejected, had the High Court looked at Section 17 B of the Industrial Disputes Act.

I quote Sec.17 B, captioned as, “Payment of full wages to workman pending proceedings in higher Courts” where it is written,

“Where in any case, a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal by its award directs reinstatement of any workman and the employer prefers any proceedings against such award in a High Court or the Supreme Court, the employer shall be to pay such workman , during the period of pendency of such proceedings in the High Court or the Supreme Court , full wages last drawn by him , inclusive of any maintenance allowance admissible to him under any rule, if the workman had not been employed in any establishment during such period and an affidavit by such workman had been filed to that effect in such Court”.

When the Writ Petition was filed against the Award of the Labor Court and the Labor Court had given the Award of reinstatement with full back wages, commuting the same to Rs.2,50,000/- in lieu thereof in view of the journalist having crossed the superannuation age in course of the case pending before it for long 14 years, it should have been proper for the High Court to refuse to entertain the management’s case in absence of proof of payment of the entire amount awarded by the Labor Court, specifically as it was clear that the 70+ old man was neither fit for work nor permissible to work anywhere. Yet, the Court reduced the commuted amount of the workman’s back wages by Rs.30,000/- to Rs.2,20,000/-, though the Judge was clear in saying, “On consideration of the materials on record, I am of the view that there is no infirmity in the findings of the the Presiding Officer, Labor Court that the termination of the workman was neither legal nor justified”.

The High Court should not have reduced the awarded amount in view of the fact that the said amount was determined in lieu of full back wages of the workman with effect from his de jure reinstatement in service on 7.9.1997. The labor Court had clearly held that termination of service of Sri Mishra was neither legal nor justified. Hence reinstatement with full back wages was awarded.

Though the workman was de jure reinstated in service with effect from 7.9.1997,  he was not to join his postde facto on reinstatement, because, by that date, his serving age had been lost during pendency of the industrial dispute. The Labor Court, in that special circumstances had commuted the back wages he was entitled to on de jure reinstatement. This was a minimum amount of wages. If the High Court was to entertain the management’s writ application, it should have asked the management to pay the workman his dues as determined by the Labor Court before hearing the same. Instead, it heard the case and reduced the awarded amount to drastic disadvantage of the workman.

Habitual Litigant

The management is a habitual litigant determined to harass the workman. When the Labor Court was hearing the case, and it was established through examination by the Handwriting Bureau that the management had forged the signature of the workman on a disputed agreement, tallying the disputed signature of the workman with his many specimen signatures collected by the judge of the labor Court in the presence of and witnessed by the management’s legal representative, the management had filed a petition on 9.11.2011 to send another signature of the workman again to the Handwriting Bureau. The labor Court had rejected that petition on 20.12.2011. Against this order, the management rushed a writ petition in the High Court, even as it made a fresh plea before the Labor Court on 18.1.2012 to recall the C.W.1 (the signature examiner) for a fresh cross examination. As its writ application got admitted in the High Court, vide  W.P. (C) No.4540 of 2012, the management withdrew its petition in the Labor Court on 7.3.2012.

The High Court found that the disputed signature has been proved as a forged signature through examination by the handwriting expert on being referred to by the Labor Court. The Examiner has tallied the same with admitted old signatures as well as with specimen signatures collected by the judge of the Labor Court in presence of and witnessed by the legal representative of the management. The Examiner has also deposed and been cross examined in the court as C.W.1 and the details of the examination with 13 sheets of documents, 17 sheets of photo enlargement, Negative containing 17 exposures and two sheets of statement of reason along with the scientific opinion have been filed in the Labor Court and examined by the management, and it had not found any defect therein. Against this backdrop, the High Court had rejected on 12.3.2013 the W.P. (C) No.4540 of 2012 instituted by the management with the observation that,  “The Court does not find any irregularity or illegality in the impugned order passed by the Labor court”.

Fresh Attempt to Kill the Spirit of the I.D.Act

Despite the verdicts of the High Court, the recalcitrant management of the newspaper has not yet paid the dues of the Sub-Editor. It has challenged the verdict in a Writ Appeal, on the ground that signature of the workman on the body of his ‘Statement of Claim’ was not sent to the handwriting expert along with his admitted signatures.

So, the Writ Appeal – WA No.201 of 2014 – filed by the management against the above High Court order is nothing but a nasty attempt to keep the tortured journalist denied of his dues.

Sri Mishra is more than 72 years.

His legitimate dues should not be denied to him in guise of the Writ Appeal.

Had the Court paid attention to Sec.17 B of the I.D.Act, the above said writ case could not have been entertained without payment of the full wages (in this peculiar situation the entire amount awarded by the Labor Court) by the management to him and the present Writ Appeal should also have been rejected because of non- payment of the awarded amount to Mishra under the same section.

The spirit of Sec.17 B of the I.D.Act must not be killed in the High Court under evil design of a management that had no qualms in forging the signature of the workman to deny him his dues.

In my next posting on the Samaja devilry, I will discuss its forgery with relevant documents.

Intimidated Samaja Staff sign on Plain Papers: State is Silent!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

THE SAMAJA is Orissa’s iconic newspaper and belongs to people of Orissa. It was created by five most beloved leaders of the State – famous as Panchasakha of Satyavadi – for imparting political education to the people fighting for reconstruction of their divided motherland and emancipation. Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das was its co-founder and was its forefront editor.

As we have shown earlier, a low-paid shrewd servant of Gopabandhu – Radhanath Rath and an associate of the great leader, whom, despite his mental dullness he had sponsored to Politics – Lingaraj Mishra – had betrayed Gopabandhu and had forged his Will after the original was probated and discarding the probated Will, had used the forged one in all offices to grab the Samaja under cover of Servants of the People Society.

This Society, after death of these two miscreants, has seized the Samaja in its entirety and has been looting its revenue.

Like vultures fight amongst themselves over a carcass, members of this Society are in fight against each other to grab whatever benefit they can and they have reduced the Samaja premises to their internecine battle ground.

Lest the workers wake up against this, they have resorted to blatant unfair practices, have subjected the Union leaders to concocted cases, have illegally dismissed active members of the Union, pushed employees into enforced idleness and as per a press note issued by the Union, have taken signatures of some employees in plain papers by intimidating them. This is happening, because, the State Government never act against illegalities of SoPS.

The press note is in Oriya script and as this posting is addressed to people of Orissa, we give below the same for their perusal.

PN 1PN 2PN 3PN 4

Samaja Editor served with Damage Notice worth Rs.1 Crore by the Family of Sub-Editor Devi Prasanna Nayak

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is increasingly being clear that the once most popular language daily of Orissa, The Samaja, is in the worst phase of its life. Its editorial conscience is rendered unstable. Massive corruption has crippled its normal functioning. Employees are being subjected to alarming unfair labor practices and acts of intimidations by a gang, the legitimacy of which has been judicially challenged by the officiating President of the Servants of the People Society, which, again, is suspected to have hijacked The Samaja by using a forged Will of its original owner, late Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das.

The gang, whose legitimacy is challenged by the SoPS authority, comprises fellows whose moral turpitude and corruption had come under the radar of Justice Arijit Pasayat Committee of Inquiry, leading to its recommendations for action against them.

This gang has, sans any proven legitimacy, appointed a board of management and has allegedly arbitrarily changed the printer and publisher of the paper and has re-empowered a manager whom the officiating president of SoPS had, on records, divested of his responsibilities and asked to go on long leave.

This gang is playing havoc with jobs of the journalists and non-journalist employees of The Samaja with the apparent intention to keep them intimidated. Transfer and suspension of Sub-Editor Devi Prasanna Nayak is an instance. Sri Nayak , besides being an acclaimed journalist, is the President of the Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association, the recognized and the only one trade union of the Samaja employees and therefore a protected workman under the Industrial disputes Act. Sri Nayak is not being allowed entry into the premises of the paper by the alleged hijackers of The Samaja, as hired musclemen termed security guards are engaged to keep him out of the newspaper campus. Thus the trade union is being strangulated. The trade union has raised a dispute against this malpractice and illegality and the concerned labor office has issued repeated notices to the employer to respond to the allegations. But the gang has kept the labor office notices hidden from the SoPS authority, for which the Opposite Party is conspicuous by its absence in the labor laws implementation forum.

This gang, on the other hand, has tried to damage the reputation of Sri Nayak by misusing the space of The Samaja to feed the public with derogatory information on him. Sri Nayak is a distinguished journalist with an unblemished career and a very promising future. Everybody who knows him deeply knows that he is a totally disciplined person dedicated to his profession and wholeheartedly committed to virtues of journalism. Besides, he belongs to a highly esteemed family, well connected with the society. Spread of derogatory information about him that paints him as an absconding man of misconduct by this gang in the pages of the newspaper, in order only to intimidate the employees whose union he leads, is taken very seriously by his fans, friends as well as his family.

Mrs. Nayak has immediately sent a notice of damage to three persons who carry the orders of this gang in The Samaja. They are, (1) Gopalkrishna Mohapatra, (2) Niranjan Rath and (3) C.R.Das

The Notice says:

Whereas in page 4 of The Samaja dated 31.10.2012 a notice has been published addressed to my husband Sri Devi Prasanna Nayak under a boxed caption ‘NOTICE TO BE PRESENT IN THE DOMESTIC ENQUIRY’;

And whereas in the said notice attempts have been made to denigrate the image of my husband in public eyes;

And whereas the author of this notice, C.R. Dash has no legitimacy to issue such notice in the known environment of disputes over management of Servants of the People Society before the appropriate court of law;

And whereas Sri Niranjan Rath has no legitimacy under the same environment to publish such a piece of character assassination of my husband;

And whereas Sri Gopal Krushna Mohapatra is responsible for anything published in Samaja as its editor;

Now, therefore, I issue this notice, that you all three must publicly apologize to my husband and to my family for having played such mischief against the reputation of my husband as well as my family within a week of issuance of this notice in the same paper, at the same place, in the same format, failing which I will sue you three individually and collectively for a damage worth at least a Crore of Rupees against each in the appropriate court, over and above any prosecution deemed proper against the crime involved.

This notice has been issued on November 1, 2012.

It was never expected that Utkalmani’s noble spirit shall get killed in the premises of the paper he founded. But this is now the shocking reality.

The media persons of the State are silently but keenly keeping a watch.

WHEN SCRIBES COLLECTIVELY AIR IRE AGAINST ADMINISTRATION, THE GOVT. MUST BE BAD

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Assembly in session, Members across party lines have expressed profound shock over the state government’s anti-Press activities and have warned that unless administration changes its stance, democracy would be in jeopardy.

Journalists in Orissa are in deep despair due to curtailment of the role of their collective wisdom in matter of accreditation. Ever since Naveen Patnaik has taken over reigns of the State, freedom of Press has been severely transgressed and grant of accreditation has become a fantoccini farce. This farce became so ruthless that 87% of the accredited journalists were threatened with disaccreditation following a resolution adopted by the puppet committee. We in these pages exposed the illegality of this official action and maintained that:

The Committee has no power, excepting review, to disaccredit a journalist. Once accreditation is granted, it shall continue till the concerned journalist voluntarily returns it under Sub-Rule (v) of Rule 5, can be withdrawn under Sub-Rule (vi) of Rule 5, can be suspended by the Director, I. & P.R. as a punitive step against misuse of the facility under Sub-Rules (i) to (iii) of Rule 15, can be cancelled by the Director under Sub-Rule (v) and (vi) of Rule 15 when the accredited reporter remains absent in his headquarters for more than three consecutive months without any intimation and is found guilty of obtaining accreditation on false documents. None of the 87 % of Orissa journalists now threatened with disaccreditation are shown to be belonging to the above categories.

The illegality exposed, the committee abandoned its resolution and the department of information refrained from disaccreditation.

But it had no sooner stopped than newer ways were invented to transgress freedom of Press. It had to be; because Free Press is anathema to misrule.

Plutocracy needs a Puppet Press. And for this purpose it tries to weaken unity of journalists by pampering the black sheep section while disregarding their Trade Unions and subjecting them to deception in matters of collective bargaining. These tactics are practiced in Orissa by the recalcitrant Nabeen Government that has framed a new set of Accreditation Rules behind back of the journalists in 2006 obliterating their participation in the Accreditation Committee through their respective professional bodies, to which they have strongly resented.

The Government is so recalcitrant that advice from every right-thinking person that the administration should leave the matter of accreditation, as hitherto before, to professional bodies of journalists and editors instead of nominating its own favorites to the Committee has not fetched any result.

Resolved not to tolerate this “anti-journalists policy” any more, both the Trade Unions of Orissan scribes, the Utkal Journalists Association and the Orissa Union of Journalists have formed a “Journalists Co-ordination Committee” and on June 28 have demonstrated their collective wrath in front of the Orissa Assembly in session.

The demonstration programs having been announced a fortnight ago, the government tried to divide the journalists exploiting the weakness of some of them generated by recognition crisis, envy and avarice; but that did not click and journalists from every nook and corner of the state staged a unique demonstration against the official mischief.

This reminds me of a time when, as the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists, I had to burn down copies of the Working Journalists (Industrial Disputes) Act, 1955 as well as the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 before the Assembly in protest against the scope given to government in these two Laws to kill the conciliation reports and recommendations of the Labour Laws Administrative Machinery for forwarding the disputes to designated courts for adjudication and determination of the relief the affected journalists are entitled to.

Late Biju Patnaik, the then Leader of Opposition in Orissa Assembly had rushed to the spot, ignoring the Question Hour, to witness that first blaze of scribes’ wrath against pro-management manners of the Government.

He along with his Party Legislator Prasanna Pattasani heard my speech and discussed with me the problem in-depth; but surprisingly, sloughed over the crux of the issue while dealing with the matter in the House. More noteworthy than this is the fact that, the then heavyweights of my own Union except Narayan Rath, Barendrakrushna Dhal and Prasanta Pattanaik, had kept themselves surprisingly away from this event lest their personal rapports with the concerned official functionaries deteriorates.

So, in collective life of journalists, opportunists are not rare, specifically when there is a political climate where both the benches side with managements and where Free Press is dreaded by both the sides.

With the help of some such opportunists, the Naveen regime has been playing havoc with the professional life of the scribes of Orissa.

The present leadership of both the genuine Trade Unions of Journalists of Orissa have rightly enumerated the plights of journalists in Naveenraj, which has been published.

When scribes collectively air ire against administration, the government that runs that administration must be a bad government. And, even in a plutocracy a bad government cannot be saved. The sooner Naveen Patnaik understands this, the better.