Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Dr. Kamala Das was found guilty of corruption in supply of substandard and spurious salt to socio-economically disadvantaged students reading in Anganwadi institutes in rural Orissa and on July 24, the Special Vigilance Judge Sri Santos Kumar Mohanty at Bhubaneswar punished her with rigorous imprisonment for two years, one each on two counts to run simultaneously and with fine.
She has used a section of media on July 25 to denounce the judgment.
I do not put any premium on what she has said of the case. She has declared to challenge the vigilance court judgment in the High Court. But to me, she has taken advantage of the instant bail granted to her by the judge immediately after award of the punishment to instigate the public to believe that she was a victim of political conspiracy to which the judge, by punishing her for the crime she has not committed, has contributed.
This is nothing but a proven culprit playing the tricks with the justice system. Every culprit has the right to appeal against the punishment in the appropriate courts. Such appeals can be moved by the lawyer of the jailed criminal and there are provisions for the jailor to cooperate in authentication of appeal papers. Appeals are heard on points of law and therefore, keeping the order of imprisonment in abeyance by the punishing judge with or after delivery of the judgment is not at all necessary.
Kamala Das was located and recruited by Biju Patnaik to his political gang and was made a Minister by him under him. Many of his gang were involved with crime against the State by way of their role in corruption and for any lapse in keeping Biju satisfied they were being dropped. Kamala had continued with Biju and later his son Navin had also given her a berth in his cabinet. She was dropped on July 9,2001 when the Vigilance reported that she was involved with the salt scam. Now, she has raised her fingers towards Biju Patnaik and asserted that she has been a victim of political vendetta. In greater interest of the State, she should deliver the name or names of whose political vendetta she has become a victim and elaborate as to what exactly she mean by saying that the scam was executed in Biju’s regime.
But more important than the nasty game politicians play is the question as to whether it is desirable on part of the judge to keep his judgment in abeyance in the style of granting bail to the proven culprit to facilitate his / her appeal in a higher court against the judgment?
A judicial answer to this question is dispassionately needed to save judiciary making a farce of itself.