About High Court of Orissa
At the commencement of the 20th Century Bengal Presidency was a vast province including Assam, Bihar and Orissa. It was really difficult to manage administratively such vast areas inhabited by people speaking in different languages and having different traditions. Administrative exigencies required separation of such areas which originally did not from part of Bengal. In 1905 Lord Curzon, however, with a sinister motive of wedging a division among the Bengal nationalists on communal basis partitioned Bengal into two parts and formed a new province with Assam and Eastern Bengal. Bihar and Orissa were retained with remaining parts of Bengal as province of Bengal. Lord Curzon did not hide his real motive when he pointed out to the Muslims of Eastern Bengal that the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam was conceived as a Muslim majority province. Partition of Bengal stimulated nation-wide protest. It was opposed by all sections of Bengalees. Fierce agitation ultimately compelled the British to re-partition. The two parts of Bengal were again united. Bihar and Orissa were separated from Bengal Presidency to from new province of Bihar. By a notification dated March 22, 1912 new province of Bihar and Orissa was formed. However, still the said new province of Bihar and Orissa was under the jurisdiction of Calcutta High Court.
On February 9, 1916 in exercise of the powers under section 113 of the Government of India Act, 1915, the King of England issued Letters Patent constituting High Court of Patna. Orissa was placed under the jurisdiction of Patna High Court.
On May 18, 1916 Circuit Court of Patna High Court for Orissa held its first sitting at Cuttack Shri Madhu Sudan Das was then the President of the Cuttack Bar Association. It his address wel-coming the Circuit Court he expressed hope that the Circuit Court would become a permanent Bench for Orissa in near future.
On April 1,1936 Orissa was made a separate province but no separate High Court was provided for it. On July 26, 1938 the High Court Bar Association at Cuttack adopted a Resolution demanding a separate High Court for Orissa.
On February 11, 1939 a Resolution was moved in the Legislative Assembly requesting the Government to constitute a committee to examine the question of establishing a separate High Court in Orissa.
By Resolution dated August 19, 1942 the Law Department of the Government of Orissa appointed a committee with Shri Bira Kishore Ray as Chairman, Sri C.M.Acharya, Sri Bichitrananda Das and Dr. Narasingha Rao as members and Shri J.E.Meher as the Secretary.
Report of the Committee was published for general information by Resolution No. 29440-J dated December 27, 1943. The conclusion of the report was :
“ The committee cannot conclude this report without considering two points which are strictly speaking outside their terms of reference. The first concerns of the Orissa States. It has long been hoped in British Orissa that a joint High Court might be set up covering both the province and the states. The Committee realise that there are constitutional difficulties in the way, though they feel that these need not be insuperable, and that this question is beyond the jurisdiction of the Provincial Government. Nevertheless the practical advantages of the joint High Court are so obvious that it must be mentioned. The second point is with regard to the first judges of the High Court . They recommend that the first three judges should be chosen – one from the English Bar, one from the Indian Bar and one from the Indian Civil Service. They would prefer that the Chief Justice should be member of the English Bar.
The Committee has now reached the end of their task. It only remains to re-state the conclusions which they have reached. They are
(1) That the creation of a separate High Court would round off the organization of the Province and lead to more speedy and convenient administration of Justice.
(2) That the cost involved is not beyond the resources of the revenue.
(3) That the work for disposal is sufficient to occupy a Court of the type the Committee has suggested”.
In 1947 some rules of Princely States in Orissa and Chhatisgarh adopted the Eastern States Union Constitution Act, 1949 establishing a High Court with Head Quarter at Rayagarh in Central Province with arrangements to hold Circuit High Courts at Headquarters of some States.
On January 1, 1948 Feudatory States of Orissa excepting Mayurbhanj were merged with the Province of Orissa. (Mayurbhanj was merged on January 1, 1949).
In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 229(1) of the Government of India Act, 1935, the Government of India on April 30, 1948 issued Orissa High Court Order, 1948 declaring that from the 5th day of July, 1948 “ there shall be a Court of the Province of Orissa which shall be a Court of Record:. Subsequently by Orissa High Court (Amendment) Orider, 1948 issue on June 8, 1948, the date of establishment of High Court was changed from 5th day of July to 26th day of July, 1948.
On July 26, 1948 Orissa High Court with Shri Bira Kishore Ray as the Chief Justice and Shri B.Jagannadha Das, Shri L.Panigrahi and Shri R.L.Narasingham as Puisne Judges was inaugurated by H.J.Kania, the then Chief Justice of the Federal Court of India.