Genesis

Historians suggest that a well-developed system of governance was in place in Kalinga or Utkala in the ancient times which was further modified and refined by legal treatises like Arthashashtra and the different Smritis from time to time as also local customs. By the end of 18th century AD, Odisha (then known as Orissa) had witnessed fundamental changes in the judicial system introduced by both the Hindu and Muslim rulers.

In the beginning of the 19th century an entirely new system was introduced by the colonial rulers (East India Company) that was further modified into a uniform system by the end of the said century. With the establishment of the High Court of Judicature at Calcutta, Odisha being part of the erstwhile Bengal province came under its jurisdiction in 1861. On 22nd March, 1912, a new province of Bihar and Orissa was formed but the province continued to be under the jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court till the establishment of the Patna High Court on 26th February, 1916. Eleven Judgeships (Districts) in Bihar and one in Odisha were subject to the jurisdiction of the Patna High Court. As ordained in the Letters Patent the Patna High Court began sitting in circuit at Cuttack from 18th May, 1916. Keeping in view the practical difficulties encountered in the Circuit sittings of the Patna High Court at Cuttack, there was a growing demand for Orissa to have its own High Court.

By resolution dated 15th August 1942, the Government of Orissa constituted a committee to examine the question of establishing a High Court for Orissa. The Committee’s report was published on 31st December, 1943. Consequent upon the government accepting the Committee’s recommendations, the Governor of Orissa submitted an address to the Governor General of India on 3rd March, 1948 that a High Court, be constituted for the Province of Orissa. On 30th April 1948, the Governor-General of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 229(1) of the Government of India Act, 1935, issued the Orissa High Court Order, 1948 providing for the constitution of the High Court for the Province of Orissa from 5th July, 1948. Subsequently, by the Orissa High Court (Amendment) Order 1948, the date of formation was changed to 26th July, 1948

The journey commences

The High Court began with four Judges which included the Chief Justice, Justice B. K. Ray who held office till 31st October 1951. Justice Jagannadha Das succeeded him. Justice Das was followed by Justice Lingaraj Panigrahi as Chief Justice from 4th March, 1953. Justice R.L. Narsimham took oath as the Chief Justice on 22nd March 1956.

Initiatives

The High Court, in its journey of the past 75 years, apart from making sincere attempts to fulfill its Constitutional obligations, has also been alive to the changes in technological field through time and has endeavored to incorporate the same in the justice delivery system through various programs and initiatives to make it more effective and accessible to the common litigant. The need for preservation of the records for posterity in an easily accessible format has also been recognized. Similarly, measures have been taken to deal with the problem of the judgepopulation ratio by resorting to optimum use of resources for disposal of cases.

Some of the initiatives and achievements,which have been separately discussed in thisreport are:

Higher disposal of cases

ICT (Virtual courts and courtrooms/VWDC/E-Filing)

Rationalization of cases

De-clogging of store-houses and reorganization of record rooms

Digitization/Judicial Archives/ Judicial History

Regular supervision of the working of the Courts

To sum up, the journey of 75 years has been satisfying in terms of achieving the goals set for the institution at the beginning. The work is far from over but the experience of all these years does serve as an invaluable guide as the institution embarks on the journey forward standing committed to dispensing justice to the people of Odisha.

Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court of Orissa

Sitting from left to right – Justice B.P. Routray, Justice S.K. Sahoo, Justice D. Dash, Dr. Justice B.R. Sarangi, Justice Jaswant Singh, Dr. Justice S. Muralidhar, Chief Justice, Justice S. Talapatra, Justice Arindam Sinha, Justice Biswanath Rath, Justice K.R. Mohapatra and Dr. Justice S.K. Panigrahi.
Standing from left to right – Justice G. Satapathy, Justice S.K. Mishra, Justice M.S. Raman, Justice Sashikanta Mishra, Justice R.K. Pattanaik Justice Savitri Ratho, Justice M.S. Sahoo, Justice A.K. Mohapatra, Justice V. Narasingh, Justice B.P. Satapathy and Justice Chittaranjan Dash.