IN INTEREST OF DEMOCRACY MAHESWAR BE MADE THE SPEAKER AGAIN

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa State Human Rights Commission has concluded that Sri Maheswar Mohanty as Speaker of Orissa Lagislative Assembly had in no way violated the human rights of Lady Marshal Ms. Gayatri Panda, whose allegations of sexual harassment against the Speaker had, on reference, been the subject matter of its investigation.

Democratic prudence requires that Sri Mohanty, who had relinquished his chair for paving way for a fair investigation be with all dignity restored as the Speaker.

Ms. Panda was marked for repeated abandonment of her services at her sweet will and therefore Sri Mohanty as the Speaker had ordered for disciplinary proceedings against her.

When she raised allegation of sexual harassment against Sri Mohanty, in these pages I had stressed on subjecting her to polygraph test as the minimum prerequisite to proceed in the matter on two grounds: one, she raised the allegation after being charged for serious dereliction in duty, which, therefore, looked like motivated and two, she was not stable in her statements.

But the Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, as is his wont, ignored our correct advice and encouraged Ms. Panda’s allegations gain ground. The Speaker, who on publication of Ms. Panda’s allegation in local media had instantly withdrawn from presiding over the Assembly till the truth come out by way of a house committee investigation, later relinquished his office voluntarily so that investigating machineries may proceed without any hesitation.

Now the Human Rights Commission has pronounced its findings that Ms. Panda has totally failed to substantiate her allegations. But, the investigation by Police is still pending.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is the Home Minister of the state. He should ask the police to conclude their investigation immediately or as leader of the House, should take steps to restore Sri Mohanty as the speaker immediately and much ahead of the Monsoon session of the Assembly.

The Speaker of the House should never be allowed to be a victim of any motivated conspiracy as has happened in the instant case.

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