Cuttack, August 31: Former Supreme Court Justice Debapriya Mohapatra died today at a private hospital in Cuttack.
Justice Mohapatra was educated at Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack and Madras Christian College, Madras. He graduated from Ewing Christian College, Allahabad and studied law at MS Law College, Cuttack. He registered as a barrister in the High Court of Odisha in 1960, to begin his long career in law.
A brilliant and distinguished barrister for nearly 23 years at the bar, between 1960 and 1983, he handled a variety of important constitutional, civil and criminal cases and worked as Staff Counsel, Department of transportation; Additional Government Advocate and finally Government Advocate before his elevation as a Judge of the Odisha High Court in 1983.
He served as a High Court Judge between 1983 and 1995, before serving as Acting Chief Justice of the Odisha High Court between May 1995 and February 1996. Subsequently, Justice Mohapatra was appointed as a Chief of the High Court of Allahabad, with the largest bench in the country, before being appointed as a Supreme Court Justice on December 9, 1998.
He retired on 3 August 2002 from Apex Court. After his retirement from the Apex Court, Justice Mohapatra decided to return to his parental home in Cuttack, Odisha and was appointed as the first Chairman of the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) from July 2003 to August 2007 .
Judge Mohapatra contributed to many notable cases – In Danial Latifi v. Union of India, he was part of the constitution bench which produced a landmark judgment while interpreting the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and upholding the constitutional validity of Muslim women (Protection of the Right Act 1986 to divorce). In Abdul Karim v. State of Karnataka, Judge Mohapatra was part of the Supreme Court bench that ordered the government to find sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and his associates who had kidnapped a Kannada film actor and his assistants. He was a firm believer in maintaining the highest standard of personal integrity and behavior in judicial conduct and had a liberal approach to the interpretation of the law to meet the end of social justice.