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Human rights duo in dock

- Row over plea to ‘extend courtesies’ to former judge

Cuttack, Feb. 9: Orissa High Court has initiated a contempt case and directed for personal appearance of two Odisha Human Rights Commission officials, who had asked the district judges “to extend courtesies” to former judge of Orissa High Court and acting chairperson of the rights panel Justice Bira Kishore Mishra.

Taking suo motu cognisance of complaints, the high court has initiated a contempt case and directed for personal appearance of the two human rights commission officials, who had asked the district judges “to extend courtesies” to their acting chairperson.

Accordingly, show cause contempt notices have been issued to the two officials of the commission.

Justice Mishra was appointed member of the commission following his retirement from the high court before summer vacation last year. Later in November, he was appointed as the acting chairperson after the retirement of Justice R.K. Patra.

Official records indicate that the controversy had surfaced in January after it was brought to the notice of the high court registry that the commission’s deputy secretary-cum-registrar Syamali Mohapatra and deputy superintendent of police P.K. Tripathy “had addressed letters to the District Judges of Puri and Berhampur respectively asking them to extend courtesies to the Member/Acting Chairperson”.

Then, registrar (administration) put up the matter before the chief justice with a note that said: “This may amount to interference with the administration of the Court without any authority of law. If considered appropriate, suo motu contempt proceeding be initiated.”

Acting on it Chief Justice A.K. Goel assigned the matter to a division bench.

Taking up the matter, the division bench initially directed the registry to find out as to how many such type of letters had been issued by the commission’s deputy secretary-cum-registrar and deputy superintendent of police to the judicial officers.

The bench also directed the deputy registrar (protocol) to find out as to whether any allotment of room was made on September 3, 2013, at the court guest house in Puri in pursuant to the requisition made on August 30, 2013.

The matter was taken up on February 3 along with the noting of the deputy registrar (administration & protocol).

The division bench of Justice Pradip Mohanty and Justice Biswajit Mohanty issued notices to the two officials of the commission to appear before it “in person” on March 10.

The bench expected Mohapatra and Tripathy to make personal appearance “and show cause as to why contempt proceeding shall not be initiated against them for interfering with Administration of the Court”.


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