Remembering The Great Legacy Of Orissa HC’s Founding Father Bira Kishore Ray

It was 63 years ago that the first Chief Justice of Orissa High Court Bira Kishore Ray breathed his last. Yet, his legacy continues to this day, and will remain so for many more years to come.

Born in a royal family of Nayagarh on October 21, 1891, his ancestors migrated and settled at Baghalgarh. In a brilliant academic career, Ray graduated from Ravenshaw College and then obtained a Law degree from Calcutta University before rising to dizzy heights.

A proud son of the soil from Orissa province, which was a part of erstwhile undivided Bengal, Ray established himself as a respected and revered figure in the judiciary.

None other than Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, the great educator, jurist and barrister, saw his potential him in a Moot Court – when Ray was awarded first prize — and predicted that he would occupy a high place at the Bar some day.

A maultifaceted man with interests in politics, social and cultural activities, too, Ray’s forte was a gentle persuasive manner which managed to disarm the opposition.

After practising for 15 years, Ray was appointed as the first Advocate General of New Orissa. He was also nominated president of the Orissa Court Committee by Parlakhemundi Ministry in 1943.

He was elevated to the Bench of Patna High Court at the age of 54 and, subsequently, became the first Odia judge in the high court.

He believed that courteous and decent treatment from the Bench to the Bar is the responsibility and obligation of a judge.

He also used to say that just as important was impartiality and high sense of justice — not only in judgement of cases but in all dealings with a litigant as well.

A judge, he strongly believed, must be bold enough to take any decision, when his conscience is satisfied about his righteousness.

Ray would tell his juniors that a judge must not fear anybody, nor must he be pay attention to anyone’s frowns. Justice, he felt, should not only be meted out, but the litigant must be satisfied about getting Justice.

According to him, the best judgments emanate when the Bench and Bar join hands to ensure proper dispensation of justice.

His simple philosophy was that the greatest noise a man can make is by his silence.

Exactly 10 years after the Orissa High Court was established with Ray being its first Chief Justice in 1948, he died at the age of 67.

Quite a coincidence for the founding father of Orissa High Court.

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