Governor moved to return Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is sad that the Legislative Assembly failed to use its legislative wisdom while passing the Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill 2016 verbatim the Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. My discussion in print media at dwells on it.

The adopted Bill being verbatim what the bureaucracy wanted it to be, crippled with inherent deficiency that may need remedy through further amendment to implement the Odisha Official Language Act, 1954, Bhasha Andolan, Orissa has, in a letter to the Governor, requested him to return the same with advice to the Government to come up with a fault-free legislation. The same is placed here for documentation:

The Hon’ble Governor of Odisha,
Raj Bhawan, Bhubaneswar.


Hon’ble Sir,
The Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2016, as passed in the State’s Legislative Assembly on 28 September 2016 deserves to be denied with assent on the following grounds:

1. The Bill has replaced the Ordinance dated 21 May 2016. The said Ordinance was a creation by bureaucracy, which has neither legislative wisdom nor legislative power. Members while debating on it had pointed out various defects in the Bill, but sadly no addition or alteration was advanced. Resultantly, such a Bill has been passed that, if it gets your assent, it would be a law created by Non-lawmakers.

2. The Bill is in two languages: English and Oriya. The Oriya version is saturated with ambiguous and incorrect words. If the Bill is given assent, the same ambiguous and incorrect Oriya version of the Bill will also gain assent and be a law. This would cause unprecedented anarchy in implementation.

3. Section 66-A (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Orissa Legislative Assembly’ stipulates, “Whenever a Bill seeking to replace an Ordinance with or without modification is introduced in the House, there shall be placed before the House along with the Bill a Statement explaining the circumstances which had necessitated immediate legislation by ordinance”. This explanation is totally absent in the Objects and Reasons of the Bill.

4. The Bill has totally and deliberately failed to state the circumstances which had necessitated immediate legislation by an Ordinance in the statutory Statement, because the member-in-charge, the Chief Minister himself, was eager to suppress the fact that , Black Flag movement of Bhasha Andolan in demand for punishment to whosoever functionary contravenes the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 be punished by creation of legislation for the same and that was the circumstance which had necessitated the Ordinance to create Rules for the purpose, as the Act had not given authority to the State to create such a provision.

5. Suppression of such vital information in the statutory Statement as required under Sec.66-A (1) had made the Bill devoid of merit for consideration and approval in the Assembly.

6. Sad, the Assembly has passed it on 28 Sept 2016; which means it has been passed without application of legislative wisdom and in contravention of Section 66-A(1) of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Orissa Legislative Assembly’.

Under the above circumstances, we request you to be kind enough to refuse to give assent to this bad Bill, wrongfully passed in the Assembly. If thereby the Ordinance collapses, that would be better than having a law wrongfully created.

We urge upon you, Sir, to please direct the Government to bring out a fresh Ordinance keeping in view the continuing Black Flag demonstration in demand for punishment to whosoever contravenes the Official Language Act 1954 of Orissa.

Sir, since 13 April 2016 the New Year Day of Orissa – every afternoon at 5pm, four eminent Oriyas are marching with Black Flags in their hands in total silence and exemplary peaceful manner, honoring every order/instruction of the government, from the statue of Late Nabakrushna Chowdhury who gave us the Official Language Act to the statue of the ever revered great grand guardian of Oriya nation, late Madhusudan Das, whose matchless sacrifices gave us our resurrected motherland Orissa. In this unique movement, we follow the Gandhian method of peace and non-violence and, in fact, this has emerged the national movement of Orissa, a like of which history has not witnessed anywhere so far. Its single demand is provision of punishment to whosoever contravenes Orissa Official Language Act, because, sans the punitive provision, the Act having come to force “at once” on 14 October 1954, and promulgated finally in Notification dated 29 March 1983, has not been implemented as yet.

We beg you Sir, under the circumstances, to please deny your assent to the utterly defective and deficient Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and to please issue appropriate instruction for inclusion of penalty clause in the Act and Rules for flawless governance of Orissa in Oriya.

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Chairman, Bhasha Andolan, Orissa
Oct 12, 2016