GUN ATTACK ON NETV MD NEEDS NATIONAL ACTION

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It was not an accidental attack. It was deliberate. It was calculatedly carried out. But the gunmen missed the target. The only woman heading the most popular satellite channel in Northeast India escaped unhurt.

Ms. Manoranjana Sinha, Chairperson-cum-Managing Director of NETV, herself a brilliant journalist, is safe; because the bullets could not hit her in the night of February 10, 2008. Gunmen from inside a vehicle, obviously following Ms. Sinha, opened fire at her and sped away as demonically as devil could have devised.

Who were they? Only the Police can say; because at both the ends of the road that trembled under the shooting sounds in that chilly night, there was going on security checking by the Police when Ms. Sinha was being fired at.

NETV, the largest media house in the northeastern region, highlights the plights of the people that obviously irks the government.

Chief Minister Mr. Tarun Gogoi who represents the Congress heads the government of Assam, the State to which Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singha owes his incumbency.

Such a State is not expected to be having inefficient Police. Therefore, when Police has not yet apprehended the culprits, though they must have been inspected in the security check posts at both the ends of the road they used for the attack on Ms. Sinha and thus must have been within the Police knowledge, people look at administration askance.

We greet Ms. Sinha for her commitment and courage.

She has tried to make NETV the media of the people of Northeast India and perhaps therefore she has been subjected to attack by anti-people networks. She has braved bullets in the cause of journalism and has made the community of dedicated scribes proud of her.

But Journalists are legally not empowered to apprehend the culprits. If Gogoi does not rise to the occasion, attack on Press being an attack on democracy, Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh who represents Assam ought to play his role.

The role he is playing against active opponents of economic disparity is discernible. He has defined the foes of Free Economy as Red Viruses! He has given a call and has been providing money from national exchequer to eliminate these “Viruses”. He should now define as to which category of virus the attackers on Free Press embodied by Ms. Sinha belong and should take steps that need be more stringent than that against what he calls the Red Virus; because foes of Free Economy are not the foes of the people; but certainly are the scoundrels who gun attacked Ms. Sinha.

Even as the gory incidence needs national action, his own party being in power in Assam, Prime Minister Dr. Singh would no doubt be looked at with much watchfulness and curiosity, specifically as the people would like to know in which category of virus he places the opponents of Free Press.

IFJ Calls For Investigation Into Attack on TV Channel Chief in India’s Guwahati

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the authorities in the Indian state of Assam to urgently investigate the likelihood that there may have been an attempt on the life of Ms Manoranjana Sinh, chairman and managing director of NETV, a news and entertainment broadcast network serving India’s north-eastern region.

According to reports from the Indian Journalists’ Union, an IFJ affiliate, Ms Sinh was driving to her office in the state capital of Guwahati during the early hours of February 10, 2008, when her car was fired upon from a passing vehicle.

Ms Sinh has alleged negligence or worse by the local police since the attack happened within a short distance of two security checkpoints at either end of the road on which her TV studio is located.

“We have been informed that NETV has been gaining audiences and credibility with its reporting on matters of public interest in Assam and neighbouring states of the north-east of India”, said Jacqueline Park, IFJ’s Director for the Asia-Pacific. “Since this has reportedly led to some resentment among those in authority, we seek an early reassurance from the state government of Assam, that there has been no effort to intimidate the chief of the news and entertainment channel”.

The IFJ is aware that journalists in the north-east of India work in a highly challenging environment because of the unsettled security situation. “We urge the authorities in the region to respect the rights of journalists and ensure that they are given sufficient security to carry out their duties”, said Park.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

CROOKS AND CRABS IN THE CABINET

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Home Department run by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has established that there is no dearth of crooks and crabs in his cabinet.

When we were looking at the loot in Orissa Health System Development Project (OHSDP) as the latest indicator to this, criminal intervention of Urban Development Minister K.V.Singhdeo in Police work to force-free an accused from Police custody at Bolangir has added a new proof.

Singhdeo’s front man Basant Meher was arrested by Police under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of Indian Penal Code for offences such as cheating, forgery, use of forged documents, possessing of counterfeit marked materials etc. Under the first of these four sections, punishment awardable is imprisonment of 7 years with fine; under the second and third, imprisonment of 3 years with fine; and under the last section, i.e.471, the IPC has provided for imprisonment for life or imprisonment for seven years with fine.

Charges being such grave, these offences are non-bailable and therefore the Police have no right to enlarge the accused, once arrested, on bail. Only a Magistrate of First Class can consider an application for bail, adjudicate and pass an order on that; but never the Police.

Meher has allegedly misappropriated the money meant for Watershed Mission Project in a vast area of Bolangir. On investigation into specific complaints from the villagers of Sialbandha, Patnagarh Police had arrested him under the above charges. But Singhdeo, appearing in the Police Station in the capacity of a member of Council of Ministers, with a pack of his associate hoodlums, forced the Inquiry Officer (IO), Sub-Inspector of Police S.Barik to stop framing charges against Meher and to set him free. The superior boss of Barik, Circle Inspector (CI) Dinabandhu Sethi, collaborated with the Minister and forced the IO to release Meher.

This serious breach of Law having whipped up severe public protests, the Superintendent of Police had to conduct a personal enquiry and as he ascertained the offence, he has put the IO under suspension on February 10 and has indicated that a disciplinary proceeding against the Circle Inspector of Police is also on the anvil.

Any layman may imagine that the Minister is the mastermind behind the misappropriation of welfare funds in Bolangir and Meher is at best one of his tentacles.

Bolangir is burning.

People, no more willing to tolerate the Minister’s mischief, have expressed their collective wrath on February 11 by stilling all civil activities in the district headquarters town.

Disciplinary action against the IO and CI has made it clear that the authorities are prima-facie aware of the offence committed. They should have initiated penal proceedings against K.V.Singhdeo by this time. But, because he is a Minister and because the Chief Minister, who holds the Home portfolio, has not expressed his disapproval of the Minister’s unlawful act, they have not dared to draw up charges against Singhdeo.

Afraid of further exposure Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has dropped ministers like rotten onions time and again.

So, people will keep a watch on him to see if he repeats his tactics or abets with Singhdeo in the shysterdom.

OHSDP LOOT: WHY ORISSA VIGILANCE SHOULDN’T CONDUCT THE ENQUIRY?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Reacting to my earlier posting, an esteemed friend has rightly observed that the Crime Branch (CB) of Police of any other state is legally not entitled to conduct the investigation into the fund loot in Orissa Health System Development Project (OHSDP) as suggested. He has asked for citation of precedence, if any, so that the Government could be called upon to follow that.

Even as his observation is appropriate, it can be said that precedence may be followed; but precedence is created.

There is no legal bar in creating precedence.

The Chief Minister is to make a requisition and making such a requisition is well within his prerogative. But if he does not remain shied at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), then the question of this alternative should arise.

The way the money is swindled and the enormity of immunity the swindlers have enjoyed in his government till Sriman Sachi Satapathy exposed the crime in depth, makes one look at the CM askance as the fountainhead of this immunity could hardly be anywhere other than the highest summit of administration.

Stray incidences of loot of public money in one or two places is different; but this is a loot of public money, obtained from foreign sources on loan, carried out systematically sans qualms all over the state!

If any unprejudiced agency is not engaged to investigate, needle of suspicion, for this specific reason, shall always point towards the highest administrative authority, which would remain very embarrassing to our people.

So, stringent action is a must. For that ascertainment of the reasons of inaction of Orissa Vigilance in preventing the loot is the bare minimum necessity. Orissa Vigilance cannot detachedly do investigation into this angle.

Orissa had created precedence in investigation into corruption. In the whole of India, Orissa was the first state where the then Chief Minister R.N.Singhdeo had subjected himself to a Judicial Commission of Enquiry that probed into the charges of corruption traded against him by his predecessor in office Sadashiv Tripathy.

We may recall that Tripathy had become the CM as people of Orissa had force-changed the incumbency from Biju babu to Biren Mitra to him, consequent upon Biju babu’s refusal to enquire into allegations against him by the CBI in spite of recommendations of a Central Cabinet Sub-Committee to that effect.

If experience is educative, the present CM should immediately amend his stance and ask for help from judiciary to institute a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate into this matter in its entirety and to come out with a speaking report on who is how much responsible for the loot. In this, he may follow the precedence created by Singhdeo and subject himself to the enquiry through specific reference.

Pending final fixation of responsibility, he should use his prerogative to suspend all the officials under whose supervision the works have been executed sub-standard and all of his colleagues from his party whose incumbencies in health portfolio had cooperated with the corruption that crippled the project over and above action against vigilance officers under whose geographical jurisdictions the crime continued without any attempt to prevent it.

If the CM does not prefer judicial enquiry and does not want the CBI to investigate, without waiting for a precedence, he should create a precedence by seeking help of a fellow CM in helping his government obtain a detached and unprejudiced report on the crime committed against our State.

SUPREME COURT GIVES A CHANCE TO NAVIN ADMINISTRATION TO DRESS UP AGAIN

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak


A judgment, which fails to clear doubts, is a bad judgment. Instead of helping people in getting judicially informed, it spreads judicial confusion.

Unfortunately the February 4, 2008 judgment of the Supreme Court in Civil appeal No. 653 of 2006 between State of Orissa & Anr (petitioner) and M/s. Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. & Ors (Respondent) is such a judgment.

Para 9 of the judgment is an indicator. I quote it below:

“9. At this juncture, it would be relevant to quote the Recommendations of the Technical Committee constituted for evaluation of the offers received for development of
Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture, which reads as follows:

“RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED FOR EVALUATING THE OFFERS RECEIVED FOR DEVELOPMENT OF TANGARPADA CHROMITE DEPOSIT IN JOINT VENTURE

Offers for development of Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture were received from four parties namely:
1. Tata Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.;
2. Jindal Strips Limited;
3. Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.; and
4. VISA Industries Limited

Before opening of the sealed offers, Jindal Steel and Power (one of the offer) withdrew its offer. The technical bid of the other three parties were opened by the committee in presence of the respective parties on 9th December, 2002. Each party presented their
case before the Technical Committee on the same day.”

Where are the recommendations?

The recommendations that formed the crux of the issue before the High Court should have been dealt with on the body of the Supreme Court judgment so that the public could have been judicially informed about why in striking down the alleged recommendation the High Court had erred.And, the doubt could have been cleared. But it has not happened.

Even though constitutionally the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal interpretation, it is also a fact that verdicts of the same court are reviewed and reversed in later judgments of the same court. Even orders of the constitution bench comprising numbers of judges are reviewed and improved upon by constitution benches comprising more numbers of judges at a later stage.

So it is not a fact that every judgment of the Supreme Court is judicially unreviewable.

As regards the issue of favoritism, the judgment is limited to a single para i.e. para 10.

I quote it below:

“10. It may be stated here that certain conclusions of the High Court are clearly indefensible. The observations relating to favoritism, so far as Jindal is concerned, are clearly without any foundation”.

It is not an ordinary statement. It is quashing of the judicial observations of a High Court. So the Supreme Court should not have ended its observation so abruptly with such scant expression. it would have been proper if on the body of this judgment it could have been elaborated as to why the judicial observation of the High Court has been thus nullified by the Apex Court.

So, notwithstanding the Supreme Court judgment, doubt in public mind would persist. But who is going to ask the Supreme Court to review its judgment?

Therefore, this much can be said now that Navin Patnaik government stripped layer by layer by Orissa High Court as reported in orissamatters. com in 2004 has been given a chance by the Supreme Court in 2008 to dress up again.

Whether or not the Government has the ability to dress up properly may be known by watching its future actions.

IF NAVIN REMAINS SHIED AT CBI, LET THERE BE ENQUIRY AGAINST ORISSA VIGILANCE BY CB OF ANOTHER STATE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

For reasons best known to himself Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is shying at the CBI in the matter of loot of the World Bank loan in Orissa Health System Development Project (OHSDP) perpetrated under the umbrella of his administration.

People of Orissa, without getting the expected benefit, will have to repay more than a thousand crores of Rupees including principal loan amount of around five hundred crores to the World Bank looted by individuals that have been enjoying as yet the patronization of his government.

From sources privy to records, we have posted how camera has caught the crime. When the crime of corruption has been committed and the cuprous delicti is in front, it astonishes that instead initiating criminal prosecution, the Chief Minister has opted for a Vigilance enquiry.

Orissa Vigilance is primarily meant to prevent corruption as provided for under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

When in the language of Orissa Vigilance “corruption” falls in a category that

“covers a wide variety of cases involving specific corrupt acts by public servants like showing favour to a particular party in award of contracts, purchase of items at higher rates, misappropriation of Government money by showing false or fabricated purchases, illegal appointments and show of favor in appointments, execution of substandard work etc. and causing any undue pecuniary advantage to any one, without any public interest”,

the word “prevention” is not defined under this Act. Therefore the dictionary meaning of prevention applies.

All English Dictionaries have defined it as “The act of preventing” and the word “Prevent” is given a definition that means, “(1) To keep from happening, as by some prior action; avert; thwart. (2) To keep (someone) from doing something; hinder; impede. (3) To anticipate or counter in advance; (4) to be an obstacle.

This makes it clear that the Vigilance organization is to “prevent” the “corrupt acts by public servants like showing favour to a particular party in award of contracts, purchase of items at higher rates, misappropriation of Government money by showing false or fabricated purchases, illegal appointments and show of favour in appointments, execution of substandard work etc. and causing any undue pecuniary advantage to any one, without any public interest” before they occur.

The corruption, in every aspect of its meaning ascribed to it by Vigilance, has occurred in the matter of OHSDP. It has occurred; because Orissa Vigilance has not acted to prevent it.

So, for this corruption, Orissa Vigilance is basically responsible and Chief Minister Navin Patnaik being the Minister-in-Charge and all the persons who have acted as Chief Secretary during this period, having Vigilance under their respective portfolios, under the Rules of Business are no less responsible.

Therefore vigilance enquiry into the unveiled corruption in OHSDP is a frustrating farce and fierce fraud being played on our people by the corrupt and crafty persons in power.

Over and above the unscrupulous traders and contractors, who have grabbed OHSDP work-orders and robbed the funds through corruption, there are three other individual and collective culprits in this case, who are: (1) Orissa Vigilance, for having failed to prevent corruption; (2) Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and (3) the catena of Chief Secretaries in incumbency during the relevant period for having failed to monitor the activities of Orissa Vigilance under their portfolios and for having failed to press it to prevent corruption before that crippled the OHSDP.

May it be repeated with emphasis that the crime of corruption has evidently been committed. It has been committed because it could not be prevented.

Therefore, what is essentially required now is unveiling of the criminal intent behind non-prevention of the crime.

The Vigilance organization shall never disclose the reason of non-prevention of the committed crime; because thereby it would be exposing its own mischief. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik as well as the Chief Secretaries of the concerned period will also not divulge the reason as to why they failed to press Vigilance to prevent corruption in OHSDP; because thereby their own cooperation with corruption would come on records.

The CM and CSs, if occasion arises, may try to trade that they were not directly directing the Vigilance organization and therefore they cannot say as to why that organization failed to take preventive steps against corruption in OHSDP. Therefore, it is only the Vigilance organization that can apprise us of why it could not discharge its legally binding duty to prevent corruption under OHSDP.

If it does not volunteer, it requires a Crime Branch (CB) action on Orissa Vigilance. But Mr. Gopal Nanda, who was heading Orissa Vigilance, is now heading Orissa Police.

It would have been proper if the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) were to conduct the enquiry. At least thereby a disinterested body could have conducted the investigation and the finding would have appeared unprejudiced. But the CM shying at it, the Crime Branch of Orissa Police is the only alternative body that that can investigate into the conduct of Vigilance and dig out its motive behind non-implementation of its responsibility to prevent corruption before it took place in OHSDP. In doing so the CB would have to investigate into the role of the present Police Chief who was heading the Vigilance at that time.

It does not look appropriate.

We cannot ignore the fact that it is a case of loot of hundreds of crores of Rupees that the State had obtained by way of loan from the WB that the people of Orissa are to repay. A pack of traders and contractors, with corrupt politico-bureaucratic officials at their beck and call, must not be allowed to cover up their crime against the people through farcical enquiries. They could never have succeeded in committing the crime had Orissa Vigilance been vigilant and not abandoned its basic duty to prevent it before it happened.

Therefore, CM Navin Patnaik should come out of his hoodwinking cocoon and refurbish his own credibility by invoking the help of CBI or the CB of any other State to find out as to why Orissa Vigilance failed to address itself to prevent the crime.

The crime has been unveiled. The criminal motive behind non-prevention of the crime before it took place needs be unveiled.

If the Chief Minister himself is not involved with this crime, he must help people know as to why Orissa Vigilance, running under him, could not “anticipate” the corruption; could not “thwart” the swindling; could not take any step to “keep” the crime “from happening”; could not “hinder” the swindlers; could not “counter” the loot “in advance” and could not be “an obstacle” to its perpetration. For this, if he is reluctant to engage the CBI lest it acts under influence of UPA run Central Government to his personal disadvantage, he should engage the CB of any NDA run State to enquire into the real reason of reluctance shown by Orissa Vigilance to prevent the loot of so massive amount of loan obtained from the World Bank, which the poor people of Orissa are now bound to repay sans any benefit.

And, the sooner he does it, the better.

Worst of Times…

When looters rule, a State runs in the way Orissa has now been caught in the camera to have run in the matter of implementation of World Bank loan in the Health System Development Project (OHSDP).

Just look at the photos below to see samples of how the looters have left their fingerprints on the bodies of their victims under the protective umbrella of administration.

These are only a few of the pictures Sriman Sachi Satpathy, privy to relevant documents and to have taken these pictures on spot inspection by virtue of his assignment, has circulated and helped us help our people to have glimpses of the loot going on unabated in Orissas present regime.

We have earlier discussed the matter and will further discuss hereafter.


Photos: Sachi Satpathy