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    HC rejects plea, paves way for Akademi award

    CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday dismissed the writ petition challenging the selection of Odia novel ‘Achinha Basabhumi’ by Kalpana Kumari Devi for the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi award, deeming it ‘devoid of merit’. The award was to be conferred on Tuesday evening.A division bench of Chief Justice V Gopalagowda and Justice BN Mohapatra directed the Assistant Solicitor General to immediately inform the Akademi of the vacation of the interim stay on the presentation.The Bench, which had concluded its hearing on Monday, held that there was no public interest involved in the case. The selection of the book had been made in accordance with the rules, the court ruled. Rejecting the submission of the petitioner, a novelist Sricharan Pratap alias Kaniska, that the book did not feature in the ground list and was inserted in the shortlist subsequently, the Bench ruled that the jury members were empowered to do so as per the laid rules for selection process.The petitioner had also contended that the book was not written between 2007 and 2009 to be eligible for the 2011 award. The award rules stipulate nomination of a work in any of the recognised languages, which is first published during the three years prior to the year immediately preceding the year of the award. The author in an interview to a monthly magazine “Jugashri Juganari” in 2010 has stated that she had not written a book for the last 20 years. By her interview, the book could not have been written during the eligible period, Kaniska stated. Dev’s counsel produced copies of the book and evidence that it was published in 2009.