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HC gives 2 months to SIC to provide Odia translation of decisions

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, Mar 24:

The Odisha  High Court  issued  direction to   Commissioner-Cum-Secretary to Govt. of Odisha, Information and Public Relation Department,  Bhubaneswar to take a decision  within a period of two months   about desirability  and necessity  of providing  to the  complainant-citizens  Odia copies of the  decisions  rendered  in English  language  by the Odisha Information Commission.

Odisha High Court
Odisha High Court

This  important judgement  came  following a writ petition ( Civil )  No. 19857  of 2013 filed by Nilamani Joshi, RTI activist from Bolangir and core-body member  of Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan (OSAA) seeking a direction  from  the   court  to Odisha Information Commission  to provide  copies of the decisions of cases  in Odia language.

Since 2006,   RTI Activists of Odisha under the banner of OSAA have been demanding before  the state government  and  Odisha Information Commission  to  make  all proactively disclosed information under section 4 (1b)  and  decisions of the Commission  in the vernacular  language (Odia).

The Abhijan has also submitted memorandum several times to the Governor, Odisha seeking direction in this regard.

Pradip Pradhan, convener of OSAA in a press release on the High Court judgement said, “During  the RTI campaign, it was  found that  a number of complainants  like the dalits, tribals, villagers, semi-literate slum dwellers using the RTI to get the  information  were harassed by the PIOs in form of denial of information. On top of that the decisions of the Commission over apeals against such harassment were handed out to them in English language  which neither they  could  understand  nor  act on it to get justice. When the complainant-citizens  demand Odia translations of their decisions,  the Commission simply ignore it  by saying they are not bound to do it under the law”.

Finally, RTI activists decided to resort legal means to get the copy of the decision of their cases in Odia language   from the Commission.  Accordingly, Nilamani Joshi had filed a writ petition in the High Court  on  August 12, 2013, he said.

During  the hearing, the learned counsel  representing Odisha Information Commission  submitted that there is  lack of infrastructure  in the establishment of  the Commission  for undertaking translation work . The Court  however said such a plea is untenable  in view of the fact that the forms ( application and appeal forms) have been prescribed  to be filed  by the  citizens  in the vernacular language.

During the hearing, Sidharth Das, Advocate  for  the petitioner  cited examples of several states  like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nandu, Kerala, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh  where the Information Commissions were providing their decisions in their respective state languages.

RTI activists across the state have hailed  this  decision  and  have expressed hope that state government and the Odisha Information Commission  will soon provide the Odia version of their  decisions to the complainants.

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