‘Closed-Door Meeting’ Between Chief Justice S Muralidhar & VK Pandian; Fake News, Says HC Registry

Cuttack: The Registry of Orissa High Court has rebuffed reports about purported closed-door meetings between Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Chief Minister’s private secretary VK Pandian as reported by some sections of media.

A lawyer named Advocate Srinivas Mohanty posted a photograph on his Facebook account with the caption: Chief Justice Dr S Muralidhar had a “closed door meeting” with VK Pandian and a few others, in violation of the official protocol. This was carried by a certain section of the media. In the wake of this message becoming viral on social media, the High Court on Saturday issued an official clarification.

It termed the fake news being made viral on social media as a scurrilous and sinister attempt to malign the Chief Justice and the institution of the judiciary as a whole. “It is extremely unfortunate that an item of fake news has been made viral on social media at the instance of a lawyer practising in Orissa High Court by publishing a photograph and making wholly scurrilous and false statements without knowing the real facts,” the Registry said in a press release.

“The photograph shows the Chief Justice of the High Court of Orissa speaking to a person at the head of a table with four other persons sitting in a semi-circle. The person sitting at the head of the table is Manoj Bhimani, the Managing Trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Heart Hospital. The other persons are three doctors of the said heart hospital apart from Secretary to CM (5T Secretary) V.K. Pandian. The date on which the photograph was taken was 12th March 2022 at the Satya Sai Seba Organisation, Bhubaneswar. The occasion was the inauguration of a 3-day Free Mega Heart Camp conducted by the Sathya Sai Heart Hospital of which Bhimani is the head, where Justice MR Shah, Judge, Supreme Court of India, was invited as the Chief Guest and Dr Justice S. Muralidhar, the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court was invited as the Guest of Honour and V.K. Pandian, the 5T Secretary, Government of Odisha was also invited as the Mega Heart Camp was in association with the Government of Odisha,” it clarified.

“The photograph is taken at a time when the guests were awaiting the arrival of Justice MR Shah from Puri. This was therefore not at all a ‘closed door meeting’ or a ‘private meeting’ between the Chief Justice and Pandian as has been projected. In fact, it was not a meeting at all. It was a public function by a charitable organization providing free treatment to thousands of poor children of Odisha suffering from heart ailments,” the press release said.

The Registry also shared the official invitation card for the event held by Satya Sai Seba Organisation on March 12.

After this event, Justice MR Shah visited the High Court of Orissa and interacted with the Judges of the High Court.

“It is extremely unfortunate that a sinister attempt has been made to deliberately malign not only the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court but the institution of the judiciary as a whole. Further, a certain section of the media has unfortunately carried the news item making negative comments without verifying the above facts. These facts could have easily been got verified both from the organization which conducted the programme and also from the Registrar General of the High Court before publication of such news item,” it added.

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