GUWAHATI: Assam on Sunday woke up to the shocking news of the sudden death of legal luminary, cricket administrator and human rights activist Nilay Dutta. He suffered a massive heart attack in the wee hours on Sunday at Coorg in Karnataka where he was on vacation.
On Saturday, Dutta (70) was celebrating his 46th wedding anniversary with his wife (a doctor by profession) at a private resort. People from different walks of life wished Dutta on his marriage anniversary and he was seen reciprocating all messages of his friends, relatives and well-wishers through various mediums, including his Twitter handle till late Saturday evening.
"A bolt from the blue - Nilay Dutta is no more. Shocked and saddened very much at the quite unexpected death of a friend like Dutta. We were friends since Gauhati University days during the 70s. A brilliant student, the finest orator, a rarely sharp advocate Nilay Dutta was of significant help to me in more than one critical juncture of my life. Reminiscences are striking the mind one after another. A fearfully outspoken and surprisingly frank Dutta dared to call a spade a spade in any situation and that secured him a special position among the friends," Sitanath Lahkar, former professor of Cotton College (now Cotton University) writes in his social media account.
Dutta passed his Matric (now HSLC) examinations from Don Bosco School, Pan Bazar by securing 6th position in the all Assam rank list in 1968. He secured 4th position in higher secondary or Class XII examinations from Cotton College. He cleared his degree and post-graduation by performing brilliantly at Cotton College. After post-graduation Dutta studied law.
Dutta joined the Bar in March 1983 and was designated as a Senior Advocate by the Gauhati High Court in 1999. Having been appointed to the office of Advocate General, Arunachal Pradesh in 2008-2012, he was appointed as Advocate General for a second term in 2016. Dutta has also served as Advocate General, Nagaland from 2004-2006 and as Additional Advocate General, Assam from 2001-2002.
Dutta has served in leadership roles in the Bar as Chairman of the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim till January 2020 and continues as a Member of the Council. He is a former president of the Gauhati High Court Bar Association and is an Advisor to the All Assam Lawyers Association.
With experience as an international cricket umpire, Dutta has also been active in sports administration and law. He has been a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Justice (R) Mukul Mudgal Committee to look into betting and fixing in the Indian Premier League. He has also served as Acting President and Vice President of the Assam Cricket Association apart from serving as Vice Chairman, Club Licensing Appellate Tribunal of the All India Football Federation.
Dutta is a member of the Committee on the Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which was constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India to examine issues concerning the implementation of constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for the people of Assam.
Dutta was also the president of Studio Nilima: Collaborative Network for Research and Capacity Building which works on interdisciplinary issues of law, development and policy in North East India and also provides free legal services and legal awareness amongst the marginalized sections of society. Studio Nilima actively works in the area of prison reforms and has been engaging with the correctional homes of Assam since 2017. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has condoled the demise of Dutta and described it as an irreparable loss to society. Sarma offered his condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul.
Taking to his Twitter, CM Sarma wrote, "Assam has lost one of the brightest lawyers, Nilay Dutta, who also had significantly contributed in many other fields including sports administration. His demise has created a huge void difficult to be filled up. Offer my deepest condolences to his family and well-wishers."
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has termed the death of Dutta as the "falling of one of the brightest stars". "Dutta had played a crucial role in recommending various legal measures to safeguard the identity of indigenous of the State as being a member of the Committee on the Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord," the AASU said in a statement.
The North East Students' Union while echoing with AASU said Dutta being a lawyer tried hard as to how to uphold the rights of indigenous people of the North East as well as the marginalized sections of the society.
In a condolence statement, Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary stated, 'Nilay Dutta was a legal luminary of Assam and the North-East. He was a multi-faceted genius. He left an indelible mark as a gentleman, advocate and sports administrator. His demise is an irreparable loss to our society.'
The Assam Cricket Association, Cotton Alumnae Association, Assam Congress Committee, AIUDF and various other organizations have deeply condoled the death of Dutta.
As per the wishes of the family, Dutta was cremated at the Wilson Gardens, Bangalore on Sunday afternoon. Former Principal of Don Bosco School, Pan Bazar Father VM Thomas was among the few who attended the funeral of this brilliant legal luminary. Since Dutta's body could not be brought to Assam, the All Guwahati Students' Union will organize a memorial meeting at Dighalipukhuri premises on Tuesday evening to pay tributes to the departed soul.