Nothing that it reflected a “sorry state of affairs”, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday took suo motu (on its own) cognizance of a stalled project of the Maharashtra government to publish the writings and speeches of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at the cost of Rs 5.45 crore.
The suo motu cognisance was taken by a division bench of Justices P B Varale and S M Modak, based on a news item published in a Marathi newspaper which said that the government had undertaken a project of publishing literature of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar under the title, “The writings and speeches of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar” in volumes.
According to the report, the government had issued directions to print nine 9 lakh copies of the volumes of these speeches and writings and purchased paper worth Rs 5.45 crore for printing.
“The news item reflects the sorry state of affairs. There is no dispute that these volumes are in demand not only by researchers but also by the public in general,” said the order, adding: “The publication is absolutely necessary and desirable for present and future generations. It is useful to members of the legal fraternity as well as to general members.”
The judges said, considering the nature of the grievance raised in the news report, the court was treating the same as a matter for public interest litigation.
They have directed the HC’s registry department to register the matter as a suo motu public interest litigation and place the papers before the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta that hears all PILs.
Unfortunately, in the last four years, only 33,000 copies have been printed and the rest of the paper purchased for the project is lying in the godown. Further, of these 33,000 prints, only 3,675 copies were made available for distribution, the court noted.
Besides, the order states that, according to the news report, the government press was not equipped with modern machinery.
“The news item stated that the government had published Volumes 1 to 21 of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s writings and speeches till date and due to heavy demand, the volumes are to be printed time and again,” the court said.