Odisha: Foundation laid for Centre for Judicial Archives in Cuttack

Cuttack: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and former Supreme Court Justice Vineet Saran today laid foundation stones for the Centre for Judicial Archives and High Court Employees’ Residential Complex in the Silver City here.

Orissa High Court Chief Justice S. Muralidharan, other judges and senior officials were present on the occasion.

The Chief Minister thanked Justice Muralidharan and judges and officials of the High Court for their efforts to set up the centre in Cuttack.

He claimed that the centre will be immensely beneficial to historians, legal luminaries, scholars and common people.

“The Odisha government is always keen to support and strengthen the judicial and legal infrastructure in the state. The state government has allotted a piece of land for the centre and it will continue to provide all kinds of support for such unique projects,” Patnaik said.

The centre will be set up at CDA Sector-1 with an expenditure of Rs 34 crore. Old and rare legal documents will be preserved at the centre, sources said.

“Many legal documents of pre-independence era would be collected and preserved at the centre. This apart, documents regarding the cases pleaded by eminent legal luminaries including Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das, Janakinath Bose (father of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose) and Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das will find place at the centre,” said an official.

The Centre for Judicial Archives will help preserve many valuable legal documents of Odisha, said Justice Muralidharan.

It worth mentioning here that Odisha province was within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Calcutta from 1862 to 1912 and the High Court of Patna from 1912 to 1948 before the establishment of the High Court of Orissa in 1948. The southern part of the province was within the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court.

Therefore, the repository of case records of the High Court of Orissa includes the old judicial records of the three High Courts: Calcutta, Patna and Madras. They also include records belonging to erstwhile High Courts of the princely states.

The preservation of old case records was taken up after the establishment of Record Room Digitization Centre (RRDC) in 2021. Documents dating back to the early 19th century containing information on the functioning of the erstwhile judicial system were discovered during the preservation work. This led to conception of an idea of having a project for documenting the judicial history of Odisha and preserving the old documents.

Chief Justice S. Muralidharan put forth a proposal before the Chief Minister for establishment of a Centre for Judicial Archives for the old records In March, 2022. The Chief Minister accepted the proposal and assured all possible support for the project.

The Centre came into existence by a notification of the Home department May 1, 2022. Since then, the Centre has been functioning at the RRDC.

According to sources, the state government has allocated 10 acres of land at CDA Sector-13 for construction of a residential complex for the High Court employees. The proposed complex will have 200 D-type flats and 350 E-type flats in 12 towers with amenities like community centre, sports centre, plantation, children’s park, lawn etc. The estimated cost of the residential complex is Rs 284 crore. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

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