CBI and Corruption: Commonality between Father and Son_ Biju and Naveen

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

When the needle of suspicion in the compass of scams and misrule is pointing at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik with increasing discernibility, Amicus Curiae Shyam Divan has told the Supreme Court on November 5 that Orissa Government is not cooperating with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the ongoing inquiry into mega chit fund scams, even though the same is being conducted under orders of the Apex Court.

This reminds me of the same experience the CBI had had while investigating into economic offenses of Biju Patnaik. The CBI Director, while confirming that certain allegations against him were “serious”, had told the Union Home Minister in his report on November 15, 1964 that, further enquiry – obviously judicial – should be instituted, to “come to a definite and clear conclusion”.

The striking commonality between the father and the son – Biju and Naveen – in corrupting administration to the extent of creating situations for the apex authorities to order for investigation thereinto by CBI, is as gross as substantial.

Everybody who is currently watching the cascading exposures of chit fund and other scams is seeing how in increasing velocity public suspicion is rushing towards Naveen. It would be better, therefore, to focus on the other one, his father Biju Patnaik.

Clandestine Comprador

After occupying the Chief Minister post in June1961, Biju unleashed such a reign of corruption and embezzlement that a former Chief Minister of Orissa, the great Gandhian Nabakrushna Choudhury had to put before the public, the modus operandi of Biju and his likes that were collecting huge sums of money in the name of election funds and swindling the same while acting as clandestine compradors of mine-owners and big businessmen, to the serious detriment of the common people and the public exchequer.

He had exposed the felony in the inaugural function of Gandhi Tattwa Prachar Kendra at Balasore on 23 July 1963.

Mass Awakening against Misrule

Following that exposure, by the end of August 1963, people of Orissa, severely affected by his corrupt practices and maladministration, had woke up en masse to seek his resignation. Students all over the State had spearheaded the campaign to oust him from the chair of the Chief Minister. Marking his swift fall, Justice H. R. Khanna, who had later headed the Judicial Enquiry into his offenses, had noted that his misuse of power for personal and family benefits had so severely eroded his credibility that, “within two or three years of his stewardship his public image became tarnished and the hopes which were built around him were shattered to pieces”.

Khanna Commission was the culmination of people’s non-stop agitations for action against Biju.

The unprecedented mass awakening led by the students had spread in full fury all over the State calling for action against him. The Congress high command and the Congress government in the center had tried to protect him. But all their nasty tricks had failed.

Forced to Quit

The tumult of the unprecedented mass agitation against him had ultimately forced the Congress High Command to ask Biju to quit under face-saving cover of Kamaraj Plan.

Biju resigned on October 1, 1963 in order to escape the wrath of the people.

His protege-cum-partner in corruption, Biren Mitra took over as Chief Minister.

Immediately after he took the oath, Mitra declared that he would rule the State on behalf of Biju, exactly as Bharat of Ramayan had done after Ram was banished from Ayodhya.

No wonder, the CBI faced hurdles in investigation. With his docile protege as his successor, Biju, as Chairman of the State Planning Board, acted ‘super CM’ .

CBI pressed on Preliminary Enquiry

People of Orissa were not content with Biju vacating the CM post. They wanted action against him and continued their agitation. The Parliament was rocked with demands for action against him. His passport should be seized and he should be subjected to criminal prosecution for felonies he committed, was the concentrated demand. It had forced India’s then Home Minister Gulzarilal Nanda to ask the CBI to conduct a “preliminary enquiry” into allegations leveled against Biju by Leader of Opposition and scores of public figures.

The CBI enquiry was ordered obviously to calm down the rising wrath of the people against the Congress Party under the banner and protection of which Biju had run his empire of corruption.

When the CBI penetrated into files and facts that formed the basis of some of the allegations against Biju, it faced non-cooperation from the State Government to proceed further. But to its utmost dismay, it was under pressure from above to give Biju a clean chit.

Pressure for exoneration

The CBI Director has very tactfully revealed this reality in his Report to Union Home Ministry on November 15, 1964. He had said, “On the basis of the scrutiny of the records, it is not possible to say that all the allegations are unfounded, unsubstantiated or untrue”. These very words of the CBI Chief most intelligently revealed that there was tremendous pressure on him from above to say that the allegations against Biju were unfounded, unsubstantiated and untrue.

Had there been no pressure to say “the allegations were “unfounded, unsubstantiated and untrue” the CBI would never have said, “it is not possible”.

Who must be the people in high echelon of power to have put such pressure on CBI?

Collaborators in Central Cabinet

We find them in the Union Cabinet who conspired to give the CBI report a burial as it went against Biju.

Instead of appointing a Judicial Commission of Enquiry, which was by then formulated and adopted as the necessary means to locate the crux of alleged felonies, when preliminary enquiries indicate prima facie correctness of allegations against persons in power, the central cabinet appointed a Sub-Committee of its own to “consider in detail the allegations against Orissa ministers, the CBI reports and the Ministers’ explanations”.

Despite Misconduct convincingly caught

The Cabinet Sub-Committee tried its best to render the CBI report inconsequential. Yet, the offenses of Biju Patnaik and his partner in corruption Biren Mitra were so vastly visible that, while refusing to institute a Judicial enquiry, it could not but say, “the manner in which Sri Patnaik and Sri Mitra, directly or otherwise, conducted government transactions in which were involved the interests of private concerns owned or controlled by them or by their relations, was definitely not in keeping with the normal standards of public conduct”.

Determined agitation

This design failed to dissuade people from their determination to see Biju and Biren ousted from the positions of power they were using to fleece from public exchequer. This determined agitation of the people forced the central leadership of Congress to ask Biju to resign from the chairmanship of the State Planning Board and his protege Biren from Chief-ministership. Biju resigned from the Planning Board chairmanship on January 29, 1965 and Biren from Chief-ministership about a month later on February 20. Shastriji appealed the people through the Lok Sabha on February 22 to “allow” this matter “to end” as both “Sri Biren Mitra and Sri Patnaik have already tendered their resignations”.

Punishment by the people

People of Orissa punished Biju Patnaik by rejecting him in all the five constituencies he contested in 1967 and also the Congress Party for having not punished Biju Patnaik.

The greatest beneficiary of people’s rejection of Biju Patnaik was R. N. Singhdeo, who headed a coalition with Jana Congress, formed by Congress members opposed to Biju.

Singhdeo appointed a Judicial Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice H. R. Khanna to inquire into and report on the charges against Patnaik and others.

Justice Khanna denounced Biju

In his report submitted on January 15, 1969, Justice H. R. Khanna denounced Biju as a morally corrupt fellow, as he was found to have used his chief-ministerial position to serve “the pecuniary and business interests of the companies, which had been started by him and with which his family members were associated” to such condemnable extent that “within two or three years of his stewardship his public image became tarnished and the hopes which were built around him were shattered to pieces”.

Scope yet to come

The ongoing CBI enquiry into chit fund scam in the regime of Naveen Patnaik offers a tremendous scope to study the syndrome in context of commonality between the father and the son in the zone of achieving personal benefits through power of governance.

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In the matter of Asok Mohanty, CBI owes an explanation; and the Supreme Court too

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A person’s right not to be victimized by law is of utmost importance; and more important than even the Supreme Court.

It is the matter of immense solace for people of Orissa that the Supreme Court has ordered for and monitoring the CBI inquiry into chit fund felonies that have played havoc with lives of lakhs of our people. So, if CBI creates an environment where viewable discrepancies whip up doubts in public mind on impartiality of investigation, not only the CBI should owe explanations, but also the Supreme Court, on ground of why more questionable persons are left untouched when persons in accidental connection with an offense are thrown into rigors of law.

This site was the first to have posted the breaking analysis on a property transaction between a High Court Judge – Justice Laxmikant Mohapatra and a Chit fund offender – Pradeep Sethy. Core information for the analysis was picked up from input supplied by RTI activist Jayant Kumar Das, whose search for allocation of CDA plots from discretionary quota had revealed how Justice Mahapatra had bagged such a plot by cheating the CDA and had subsequently handed the plot over to a  chit fund mafia.

The judge had used the High Court letterhead to bag a monumental plot for residential purpose and before getting the lease deed executed in his favor, had de facto handed the same over to the chit fund cheat behind back of the CDA, while asking the CDA to allow the transfer, as he had, by then, already received Rs. 1 crore from Sethy in full satisfaction of the negotiated cost thereof, which was more than ten times of the amount he had paid to the CDA while accepting the plot.  He had told the CDA that the “negotiation” with Sethy over the plot “was because of my legal necessity”.

Interpreting the sequences, it was my firm fear that Justice Mohapatra had acted a conduit for Sethy in getting for him this major plot, which the later could never have got from CDA; and, therefore, I had stressed upon a judicial inquiry to find out why the “negotiation” with Sethy was Justice Mohapatra’s “legal necessity”. This may be perused at:

Judicial Enquiry Essential to determine if Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra did not act a conduit for a Chit Fund Mafia

The discernible conduct of Justice Mohapatra not being becoming of a judge, Sethy appeared to me like a man who can make the judges dance.

As I looked deep into the matter, I found, despite having taken the plot de facto to his possession behind back of the CDA, and despite having transferred the same to his name from the name of Justice Mohapatra before the lease deed was executed; Sethy did not press on execution of the lease deed in his favor also, which legally and normally he should have done.

At this stage, Advocate General Asok Mohanty, as he then was, emerged on the scene. He took over the plot from Sethy at a cost of Rs.1.01 crore, even though the lease deed was not executed in his name.

Much ahead of CBI taking up investigation into this matter, in my breaking animadversion on the particular issue, I had noted, “A sitting Chief Justice of a High Court and an Advocate General of a State Government forming the triangle with a chit fund mafia over the plot in question, an enquiry by the Supreme Court of India into this scandal seems essential to cleanse the judicial system of misusers of their privileged positions. And, the sooner it is done, the better.”

It is good that under orders of the Supreme Court, the CBI has taken up the investigation. It has arrested Mr. Mphanty, interrogated him repeatedly even by taking him on remand from the court and has got him surrender his passport.

The CBI’s action so far,  as observed, does not suggest that he has been booked for any of his role as Advocate General of the State vis-à-vis the chit fund offense.

The CBI has taken him to task, as far as known so far, for his role as a purchaser of a house standing over the plot, which Sethy had purchased from Justice Mohapatra.

As we have noted from CBI version, there is discrepancy in the statement of Mr. Mohanty on payment of the cost of the building to Sethy. Even if one buys that, is purchasing a house against an amount of money which is not substantiated by bank accounts a crime for which the purchaser’s right, as a citizen, not to be victimized by law can be ignored?

I have not only posted the breaking discussion on this subject in these pages, but also have repeated my remarks, wherein Mr. Mohanty has been shown a vertex in the triangle of scandal drawn on the discussed plot.

But my question is: Why Justice Mohapatra’s role is not being investigated into? Is Mr. Mohanty being deliberately subjected to CBI action so that Justice Mohapatra may stay away from screening eyes of the public?

CBI owes an explanation on this issue and so also the Supreme Court, because, Justice Mohapatra, who is basically involved with Sethy in this matter, has not yet been subjected to investigation.

Fanatical Face of Pipili: Rape is Our Prerogative; Action Against That is Not Yours

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Gana Samaj that stresses on CBI inquiry into Pipili gang-rape, is facing police action, as the local police station – ill-famed for having given protection to the rapists – has entertained a FIR against its leaders, alleging, because of them, the rape having attracted national attention, face of Pipili has been blackened.

Pipili Assembly Constituency is in strong grip of ruling party BJD. No official here is expected to act independent of BJD influence.

Here, in the village Arjungoda, on 29 November 2011, a Dalit girl was found lying like a dead body in a paddy field abandoned by perpetrators of gang-rape who had tried to murder her after raping, as her living was dangerous to them, she being the only eye witness to a 2008 rape-cum-murder they had committed; and, assuming that she was dead, they had left her motionless body to be eaten away by scavengers.

But a villager stumbled upon the poor child in that pathetic condition and notified her family.

The shocked family took her to Pipili Hospital for immediate medical intervention and informed the police. None of them came to her rescue.

The girl was then taken to the Capital Hospital at Bhubaneswar, which not only blatantly neglected her, but also to eliminate the angle of rape, probably under political pressure, tried to make out a case of snake bite.

The girl, due to willful wrong treatment, went from senselessness to coma and her reference even to the SCB Medical College failed to fetch any proper medical attention; as if revival of her sense was not in the agenda of the government doctors.

She was discharged from the medical college without any medico-legal investigation even though her family had apprised the medical officer of the gang-rape and attempted murder.

As she was thus left without medical care, in the lap of slow death, in a condition of no attention from the State as police was not taking cognizance of rape and attempted murder, the local media took up the matter.

Surprisingly, the loudmouth bigwig of BJD, Minister (as he then was) Pradip Maharathi, representing Pipili in the Assembly, till then silent, woke up to intimidate the Press for reports of the rape!

The minister’s such unexpected attack on the media made the watchdog of journalistic interest, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) take up the issue and eventually, under its initiative, for the first time in the post-independence history of Orissa, politicians sans their party flags got united with the civil society against the government’s design to suppress this felony, which gave birth to the Orissa Gana Samaj (OGS), with representatives of MUFP – Prasanta Patnaik and Rabi Das – as its joint conveners.

The loudmouth minister had to resign from the cabinet; the Government had to readmit the victim in the medical college afresh and to arrange for her treatment under inspection and instructions from super-specialists and medical scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and other official organs had to get activated. The Home department had to initiate action against the police inspector who had protected the rapists and the alleged rapists were arrested, notwithstanding howsoever farcical that was.

Had the OGS not taken up the matter, the victim could never have got government attention and the possibility of prosecution against the rapists could never even have developed.

So, the ruling party, its loudmouth leader who was forced to resign in the gang-rape context, its local hoodlums to which segment the alleged rapists belong, are acrimoniously angry upon the OGS.

Now as a FIR has been filed against the representatives of OGS by a man who claims that by exposing the gang-rape, they have embarrassed Pipili in the eyes of the nation, one is inclined to accept that there are elements in Pipili to whom raping a woman is not a crime against the land, but exposing the crime is a crime. This throws light on the liking of the party that rules over Orissa, specifically when such a mischievous FIR has been entertained by the police.

Prasanta Patnaik, Convener of OGS, has demanded that the matter in its entirety be handed over to CBI for an in-depth investigation, as the State Police seems to be in habitual nexus with the criminals.

No Confidence in the Crime Branch, Mr. Chief Minister?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In appointing a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe into the Pipili gang-rape case, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has indicated that he too has no faith in the Crime Branch of the State. Sad.

People are rejecting the Judicial Commission as such judicial commissions are of no use in timely dispensation of justice inasmuch as prosecutions will have to wait till the Government accepts its report and approves its recommendations, which may take a decade.

This nasty administrative game needs no elaboration, as, more than a dozen of Judicial Commissions appointed to probe into felonies committed during Naveen Patnaik’s incumbency are not yet able to arrive at their final findings.

When they conclude their investigations, they shall submit their answers to issues fixed by the Government to the Government under the Commission of Inquiries Act and then the Government, taking time as it likes, will decide on acceptability of the recommendations and then only, if recommendations are for prosecution against persons found responsible for the crime concerned, prosecution shall start. And, the case shall enter into a labyrinth of litigations, which the person or persons affected by the crime can seldom tackle to obtain justice.

So, Judicial Commissions of Inquiry are safe havens for the criminals.

Naveen Patnaik has provided such a haven to executants of the felony at Pipili.

Hence, the only alternative available, is a CBI inquiry. Orissa’s greatest watchdog of freedom of press, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) is spearheading the demand for such an inquiry.

Come Monday – 16 January – Bhubaneswar, the citadel of the rulers, will see political luminaries, social activists, students leaders, youth bigwigs, cultural celebrities together with the media persons in a very unique solidarity march against the State Government shying at the proposal for inquiry by CBI while its Minister from Pipili has been trying to intimidate the Press for having focused on the felony.

I maintain that it would have been the best had the primacy of Crime Branch in investigation into and initiation of penal prosecution against the Pipili crime not been crippled by the State Government. It is sad that the Police is tolerating this deathblow from the Chief Minister on credibility of its star sector, the Crime Branch. The Police top-brass’s ‘Yes Boss’ habit is making the gravest casualty of the crime investigation machinery. It is not yet defined, but discernible to alert eyes that the State Police is feeling suffocated by annihilation of credibility of the Crime Branch by a Chief Minister of no political will.

It would be better for Naveen to read the writings on the wall.