Orissa HC clears way for arrest of Jay, Jagi Panda in Dalit ‘land grab’ case

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Written by Deeptiman Tiwary
| New Delhi |

Updated: Nov 22, 2020 2:35:51 AM


Baijayant Panda and Jagi Panda have denied the allegations

In a reverse to BJP National Vice President Baijayant Panda, the High Court of Orissa refused to intervene in a case of alleged grabbing of land belonging to people belonging to the Dalit community by a company owned by Panda.

The case is currently under investigation by Odisha Police under various articles of the IPC and SC / ST (Atrocity Prevention) Act.

The court also paved the way for the arrest of Panda and his wife Jagi, the company’s co-promoter, Odisha Infratech Pvt Ltd (OIPL), by overturning all previous interim orders. The HC had previously adopted an interim order granting them protection against arrest.

The Pandas had moved HC for canceling the FIR against them and the OIPL.

The Pandas on Saturday denied all allegations made against them and blamed the development on Odisha’s chief minister Naveen patnaikthe policy of vendetta. “… We have not done any wrongdoing and we are confident that this will ultimately be proven in court,” Jagi Panda said in a statement.

In the order issued on Friday, Judge BP Routray said: “I am not inclined to interfere in the criminal proceedings, more particularly at the stage of the current investigation. Accordingly, the petitioners’ prayer is rejected and the Misc criminal. The case is closed. All provisional ordinances adopted remain canceled. “

The Pandas had alleged in their petition that the FIR was the result of “malice” and “ulterior motives” at the behest of the “ruling political party”. The court dismissed the allegation on the grounds that “the same is not found with the supported documents”.

On October 31, the Economic Crimes Wing of Odisha Police had registered an FIR alleging that a Rabindra Kumar Sethi, a person from the Dalit community who was once a driver for the Panda company ORTEL Communication Ltd, was reportedly in a hurry by the Pandas to purchase 7,294 acres of land. land of 22 Dalits in the Khurda district of Odisha between 2010 and 2013. This was to circumvent state laws that prevent the purchase of land owned by Dalits by non-Dalits.

The land was reportedly bought at 50 percent of market value, according to the FIR. This land was then taken over by OIPL for the real estate development of Sethi for a declared consideration of Rs 65 lakh, even if no amount would have been paid to Sethi, according to the FIR.

Sources said Sethi purchased this piece of land – located between a 100-acre plot that Pandas was developing – with his monthly salary of Rs 8,000.

A senior Odisha police officer said, “Sethi and others (from whom land has been purchased) have already recorded their statements before a magistrate.”

In Odisha, under the Land Revenue Act, Dalits are not allowed to sell all of their land holdings to non-Dalits without permission from the district collector.

In a statement, Jagi Panda said: “In the past two months, Odisha police have recorded around 20 bogus cases against OTV, its sister companies, employees and family members, including my 84-year-old father. years…. We vehemently deny these allegations…. We claim that these cases are being orchestrated by the 21 year old BJD government in Odisha because of CM Naveen Patnaik’s personal vendetta against us.

On the FIR’s allegations, the court order said: “Against the background of the allegations, it is seen that the petitioners used opposing party # 3 (Sethi) as an instrument or to say, as a ‘fake buyer’ to obtain land it in their favor. When the investigation is still going on and early [initial] step, the assertion that the evidence does not warrant an investigation is therefore not considered correct. Nor can it be said that the claims are so absurd or inherently improbable.

The Pandas argued in court that none of the offenses covered by the SC / ST (Atrocity Prevention) Act are established or constituted, but this was deliberately added to deny them the benefit of provisional release. The court rejected this assertion and observed that the allegations “definitely fall” under specific clauses of the law.

The Pandas had argued that the FIR had been registered to settle a score because OTV, which was owned by them, broadcast a conversation from two friends regarding their experience at a Covid hospital.

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