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.
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.