New Delhi: The year 2021 infused strength in the flattening fleet of the Orissa High Court with the induction of six judges in the court which was working with almost half of its sanctioned strength.
While there was only one recommendation to Orissa High Court by the Supreme Court Collegium in 2020, the latter headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana recommended appointment of four judges and transfer of three judges to the Orissa High Court in September.
The SC Collegium had, September 29, approved the proposal for elevation of advocates Aditya Kumar Mohapatra and Mruganka Sekhar Sahoo, and Judicial Officers Radha Krishna Pattanaik and Sashikanta Mishra as judges in the Orissa High Court. The appointments of these four as judges were made in October and November this year.
Earlier in September, the Supreme Court had also recommended transfer of three judges to the HC. The collegium had recommended transfer of Justice Jaswant Singh from Punjab and Haryana High Court and Justices Arindam Sinha and Soumen Sen from Calcutta High Court to Orissa High Court. However, the transfer of Justice Soumen Sen has not been notified by the Union government yet. The collegium had also recommended the transfer of Justice SK Mishra from Orissa High Court to Uttarakhand High Court in September.
Significantly, the new appointments and transfer of three judges added the much needed strength in the fleet of the High Court.
Before these inductions, the High Court was functioning with half of its working strength. It was left with 13 judges, less than half of its sanctioned strength of 27, after the retirement of Justices Pramath Patnaik and Sanju Panda in the months of June and July respectively. Due to the aforesaid appointments and transfers, the working strength of judges rose to 18, including the Chief Justice.
It is pertinent to mention here that the vacancies in the HC are filled from two sources, 18 from the Bar and nine from the Higher Judicial Service of the state. To adjudicate the whopping 1,94,224 cases, there is a dire need for filling all the vacancies at the High Court.