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Court cloud on Akademi panel reconstitution

Cuttack, Dec. 25: The formation of the general council of the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi remains shaky as Orissa High Court has imposed a restriction on the process of its reconstitution, which was recently challenged in a PIL.

Barendra Krushna Dhal, a veteran vernacular journalist, had filed the PIL.

The PIL alleges that during the reconstituting process, Orissa representatives were chosen on the basis of names recommended by the state culture department, while names recommended by the Kendriya Akademi were glossed over, in violation of the institution’s by-laws.

With the court’s winter vacation bench issuing a stay order on the process, the panel formation is likely to be delayed. The council was last reconstituted for 2003-07, a term to end on December 31, 2007.

The Akademi general council, which consists of 97 members, is the supreme authority of the Central Sahitya Akademi. Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, is a central institution for literary dialogue, publication and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in 22 Indian languages, including English.

Acting on the PIL the two judge winter vacation bench of Justices I.M. Quddusi and A.K. Samantaray yesterday issued notices to culture departments both at the Centre and state, the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi and the State Sahitya Akademi to file replies clarifying their respective stands. In its interim order, the court has further stayed the formation of the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi’s new council without considering the recommendations of the State Sahitya Akademi and would hear the matter on January 17.

According to the petition, the State Sahitya Akademi in May 2007 had recommended the names of Hara Prasad Das, Binapani Mohanty, Ashutosh Parida and Basudev Sunani. Later in September 2007 the State Sahitya Akademi recommended Dipak Mishra and Bibhuti Patnaik.

The state culture department, had on the other hand, recommended a separate list which included Prafulla Mohanty, Prabhakar Swain and K.C. Mishra. The Kendriya Sahitya Akademi on its part had reportedly chosen names from the list recommended by the state culture department for representation in the reconstituted General Council, the petition had alleged.

Official sources said that the Centre nominates the president, the financial advisor and five members of the council.

Other Akademi members include 35 representatives of states and union territories, 22 representatives of languages recognised by the Akademi. Also, there are 20 representatives of the Indian universities, one representative each of the Sahitya Natak Akademi, the Lalitkala Akademi, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Federation of India Publishers and the Raja Ramohun Ray Library Foundation.

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