Reported by Swetaparna Mohanty
Bhubaneswar, Feb 26:
An RTI reply by the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Home department has laid bare the real intention behind the Odisha government’s decision to appoint the Justice C R Pal Commission in 2008 to recommend regions and places for setting up High Court benches in the state.
The reply leaves no doubt whatsoever that the idea behind appointing the Commission and then giving it repeated extensions – at great public cost – was not to decide on the location of circuit benches, but to buy time and put the whole thing in cold storage.
Even as the people kept wondering when, if at all, the Commission would submit its report to the government comes the revelation that it did so nearly nine months ago ! But the government, for reasons known only to itself, has neither made it public nor placed it in the Assembly as it is duty bound to do.
In his February 19, 2015 response to an RTI query filed by noted RTI activist Pradip Pradhan on January 27, 2015, the PIO of Home department said; “Justice C.R,Pal Commission has provided the report to state Govt. on 31.5.14 after taking seven years’ time period and with expenditure of Rs. 1,52, 58,722.00”.
It may be mentioned here that lawyers of southern and western Odisha had launched an agitation demanding High Court benches in their respective regions in 2013. The movement continued for months together amidst bandh calls given by the lawyers and supported by different sections of the people.
The state government had then taken the plea that Justice C R Pal Enquiry commission was yet to submit its report.
Pradhan said that the reply received through the RTI query had exposed the indifferent attitude of the state government to the cause of the people of western and southern Odisha.
“The constitution of the Commission and huge expenditure on its functioning has proved useless and a loss to the state exchequer. The government just befools the people in the name of the commission,” the RTI activist said in a statement