Bhubaneswar: The Assembly Thursday passed Court Fees (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2020 to facilitate online mode of payment of court fees. Law Minister Pratap Jena moved the Bill, which was passed on the third day of the monsoon session.
In view of COVID-19 pandemic, the Orissa High Court and other subordinate courts are functioning in restricted manner. The HC has permitted electronic filing of cases which necessitates electronic method for payment of court fees.
Since the Court Fees Act, 1870 provides for payment of court fees through physical stamps only, the Act required suitable amendment to provide for payment and refund of court fee through electronic mode (e-payment).
This will enable the litigants and other stakeholders to have easy access to judicial process at all times including the present crisis.
Debate over Odisha Universities Amendment Bill, 2020, which was introduced in the House Wednesday, began Thursday and remained inconclusive as Speaker adjourned the House till 10.30am Saturday.
Criticising the government for amending the Universities Act-1989, senior Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra said, “What was the hurry to amend the Act through an Ordinance during this COVID times? Will this law be able to control the spread of the virus?”
The state government has initiated process to amend the law in 2015-16. But, it failed to do so due to objections made by the Law department, Mishra said, adding, “The file was closed in 2018. But, now once again miscellaneous file has been opened by the Higher Education department.”
He said, “There is a big conspiracy behind this move.” Mishra read out the draft notes written by Law department on the proposal to amend the Act and also said the way of amendment of the Act is being pursued is an encroachment to certain power given to Centre in the Constitution.
However, Higher Education Minister Arun Sahoo said the amendment was proposed to rationalise administrative functioning of all state-run universities bringing all universities under one Act.
The government has made provision to enhance the tenure of Vice Chancellors to four years from three years with the upper age limit of 67 years with no provision of re-appointment to bring sustainable improvement in university functioning, he said.
The number of universities has increased manifold and it is extremely difficult to present voluminous audit reports of every university every year before the Assembly. Therefore, the government decided that the universities can upload their audit reports on their websites, which will be on display for three years, Sahoo said.
BJD legislator Amar Sathpathy said that the House has all rights to amend the Universities Act, which was passed by the august House only. There is no encroachment in the affairs of Central subject, he said, adding, “This amendment will give more autonomy and bring more transparency in the functioning of universities.”