Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Orissa High Court on Saturday issued a clarification over a viral picture doing rounds in social media. The viral picture featured Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Odisha 5T Secretary VK Pandian among others sitting together.

Releasing a press statement, the Registry of Orissa High Court stated, "It is extremely unfortunate that an item of fake news has been made viral on social media at the instance of a lawyer practicing in Orissa High Court by publishing a photograph and making wholly scurrilous and false statements without knowing the real facts."

"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 Mr. V.K. Pandian. The date on which the photograph was taken was 12th March, 2022 at the Satya Sai Seba Organisation, Bhubaneswar," the statement read.

"The occasion was the inauguration of a 3 days Free Mega Heart Camp conducted by the Sathya Sai Heart Hospital of which Bhimani is the head, where Justice M.R. 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, Govermnent of Odisha was also invited as the Mega Heart Camp was in association with the Government of Odisha. The photograph is taken at a time when the Guests were awaiting the arrival Justice M.R. Shah from Puri," it further added.

The press release refuted claims by the viral facebook post that the meeting was held secretly. "It was a public function by a charitable organization providing free treatment to thousands of poor children of Odisha suffering from heart ailments," the High Court Registry said.

The High Court further alleged that this is a sinister attempt to deliberately malign not only the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court but the institution of the judiciary as a whole.

It is pertinent to mention here that a picture of S Muralidhar sitting with VK Pandian and others was posted by a Orissa High Court lawyer on his facebook account raising questions on the conduct of the Chief Justice.