| Orissa High Court |
Cuttack, Jan. 1: The year 2010 has been an eventful one for Orissa High Court in passing orders involving different facets of judicial intervention, whether on affairs of the government, human rights, resettlement of slum dwellers, the temple conservation issue, putting a check on the executive or allegedly erring judge.
When in January a full bench of the high court demoted its additional Judge L.K. Mishra to the rank of district judge after his confirmation for permanent judge was not received at the end of two years, it was a landmark development. His compulsory retirement followed two months later as he did not join as Kalahandi district judge.
But many were surprised when a single judge bench ordered for re-election for the Athagarh Assembly constituency in June while annulling the election of sitting MLA Ramesh Rout after ruling rejection of four-time elected MLA Raja Swain’s nomination papers as “illegal” and “not sustainable”.
The court passed a significant judgment quashing the government’s recommendation for grant of mining lease in favour of South Korean steel major Posco in July and directed it to consider afresh the grant of mining lease for Khandadhar iron ore reserves in Sundargarh district.
In another landmark judgment, the high court quashed the entire process adopted for acquiring land along the Puri-Konark marine drive by the state government for Vedanta University in November.
It invalidated the land acquisition notifications and the award proceedings in favour of Vedanta and directed return of the acquired land to the original owners.
The high court ruling on a petition by general class state civil servants was also seen as significant as it quashed the government notification allowing government servants belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to retain their seniority in case of promotion by virtue of rule of reservation. In the process the court quashed the gradation list of 559 OAS Class I (Jr) officers prepared by the government in March 2008.
The court came to the rescue of 85-year-old Madhabi Mishra (wife of the late Gopinath Mishra, former teacher) of Ichapur village in Kalahandi district, who was made to run from pillar to post for getting pension after the death of her husband 29 years ago.
After taking cognizance of a newspaper report, a two-judge bench ensured in less than a month the payment of provisional pension (Rs 3,38,104) with retrospective effect from January 1, 1996, to October 31, 2010, to the widow.
In an unprecedented response to evicted slum dwellers in Cuttack city, a two-judge bench ordered the construction of residential apartments for the resettlement of slum dwellers in the state.
The high court expected the state government and the urban local bodies to draw up a comprehensive development plan and identify government land and private land and if necessary acquire them for the purpose of construction of residential apartments to rehabilitate slum dwellers and evictees in the state.
Responding to a PIL, the court checked attempts of the government to give away 3.7 acre of land of the Orissa State Road Transport Corporation in Cuttack to a Reliance company for and asked it to explore possible alternative land plots in the city for the proposed retail complex.