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.

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