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Sharmili Mallick

The Commercial Court in Cuttack has restrained noted linguist, Dr Debi Prasanna Patnaik, from publishing ‘Mo Jibani’ - the autobiography of Byasa Kabi Fakir Mohan Senapati and other literary works of the legendary poet of Odisha.

The Court, in its final decision, declared Dr Minakshi Dutta as the rightful owner and custodian of the manuscripts of Byasa Kabi Fakir Mohan Senapati as she is his great-granddaughter.

“In an interim order in August this year, the Commercial Court had restrained Dr Debi Prasanna Patnaik from publishing ‘Mo Jiban’ until the announcement of the final decision. In its final verdict, the Court has directed Patnaik to return all the manuscripts, including the poet’s autobiography- ‘Mo Jiban’, Ramayana and Mahabharata—original and digitised-- to Minakshi Dutta, who is the great-granddaughter of Byasa Kabi Fakir Mohan Senapati,” said Dutta’s counsel and senior advocate, Gautam Kumar Acharya.

“The Court has also restrained Patnaik from publishing the manuscripts. The manuscripts can only be published by Dutta or Senapati’s relatives. The publication of the autobiography was the main subject of contention between the two parties,” added Acharya.

Dutta had earlier filed a petition in the court in which she had alleged copyright violation in the publication of the manuscripts of the poet. Later, the court in its interim order on August 17 pronounced that the publishers cannot go ahead with the publication of the autobiography till the final judgement is passed.

Dutta in her plea had stated that she had initiated the process to publish some rare undisclosed literary works of the Vyasa Kabi in 2019. She had reportedly handed over six manuscripts including the autobiography of the great poet to Patnaik for restoration and as per an MoU signed between the two on August 18, 2019, the copies of the works were decided to be digitised first.

However, she later discovered that the Patnaik had moved ahead for publishing the manuscripts even without her consent. Terming the development as heartbreaking, she had approached the court seeking an immediate stay on the publication.

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