Govt defends award rules

The state government has claimed in Orissa High Court that the rules for conferring of the Dharmapada Award have been revised "to streamline" the process of selection.

By LALMOHAN PATNAIK in Cuttack
  • Published 14.06.15
  •  

Cuttack, June 13: The state government has claimed in Orissa High Court that the rules for conferring of the Dharmapada Award have been revised "to streamline" the process of selection.

In an affidavit, the government said it had instituted the award selection committee "to overcome the difficulties encountered by the Odisha Lalit Kala Akademi" and "to simplify the process in the interest of the artist community".

Padmanava Behera, 75, a Cuttack resident and painter of Jhala Ghate (1961) fame, had filed the petition, alleging that the revised rule had shattered his "aspirations, rights and legitimate expectation for receiving Dharmapada Award".

The Dharmapada Award is the highest honour of the state - which is conferred by the akademi on an Odia artist for his lifetime achievements and contributions towards conservation, propagation and development of art and crafts tradition (traditional art, contemporary art, Odishan art and so on) of the state. It carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Tourism and culture department filed the affidavit in response to a petition challenging the process adopted for selection of the awards from 2009 to 2015.

On May 12, the department had declared the names of seven noted persons, who would be accorded the awards. The awardees included Golak Bihari Patnaik (2009), Asim Basu (2010), Durga Prasad Das (2011), Sudarshan Sahu (2012), Jatin Das (2013), Dinanath Pathy (2014) and Raghunath Mohapatra (2015).

The affidavit said the existing rules or regulation regarding conferring of the award was revised by resolutions on February 13 and March 3 on the basis of an inquiry report of B.B. Mishra, a retired IPS officer.

The state government appointed Mishra as an inquiry officer to probe into the process and fairness of the award selection for 2008 after it had been challenged by some of the artists in the court of law.

The inquiry report was submitted on June 5, 2009.

The petition sought quashing of the March 2 resolution.

In the affidavit, the government, however, said "the petition is an abuse of the judicial process" as there is "no cause of action" to file it. The petition is not maintainable and liable to be rejected, the state government contended in the affidavit.

The vacation court had issued the notices to the government after a preliminary hearing on June 3.

The affidavit was filed on Wednesday.

Taking note it, the vacation bench of Justice Sanju Panda and Justice D.P. Choudhury has fixed June 18 for hearing on the matter.