Opposition Chief Whip Stripped the Chief Minister Layer by Layer in Vedanta Matter

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In a opening statement on the adjournment motion moved by Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told Orissa Assembly this forenoon that the period of limitation of challenging the order of Orissa High Court in Vedanta University matter is not yet over.

The High Court verdict delivered on November 16 has nullified the land lease granted to the non-existent University. It has held the land acquisition illegal and directed for restoration of the acquired land to the owners thereof. The government has been taken to task by the Court on about 16 counts and corrupt conduct of the government in the matter has got focused in the judgment.

The CM in his statement tried to counter the determinations of the Court and to show that there is no illegality in acquisition and allocation of land to Vedanta University.

Harichandan took the CM by horn on this ground. Is the CM competent to say that the High Court judgment is not correct? he asked. The supreme Court is the only authority that can weigh the the High Court verdict, not the CM, he said.

As on the day, the reality is that the High Court has held the acquisition of land and allotment thereof to a non-existent university as illegal and impermissible, said he.

Prasad further pointed out that the intention behind the rash acquisition of lands, in utter disregard to the stipulations under Land Acquisition Act is held by the Court as mala fide. Hammering on the CM’s statement he said that the government knew that in showing his concern as a public company for the purpose of facilitating the land acquisition, Anil Agrawal was cheating Orissa. It was a must necessity for the government to verify the truth from the Registrar of Companies. But because of the now legally known mala fide motive of the CM, the executive did not dare to obtain any such verification from the Company Registrar, he said.

The CM is clearly in a criminal nexus with Anil Agrawal in cheating the people in the name of a non-existent university and hence needs be prosecuted under the Indian penal Code. Sloughing over of objections / advice of the Law department as well as others, for instance – Higher Education Minister’s note on the file dated 31.5.2007 where , instead of taking a decision at his end, he had noted, “sensitive issue, CM may decide” – is indicative of CM’s involvement with the crime in question.

Prasad alleged that a case against Anil Agrawal pending since 23 May 2008 is not proceeding as the Crime Branch is not getting his address whereas his visit to the CM’s chamber is often telecasted, each time in know of the police higher-ups. Obviously the CM has been giving him protection, he alleged.

When for this and other instances of abetment in the crime by Agrawal against human rights, fundamental rights , forest and environmental rights etc the CM, if laws of the land are to prevail, needs be prosecuted under 120(b) of the IPC, a criminal case has already been registered against him day before yesterday, registered vide No.371/2010 before the SDJM, Puri, he said.

In the circumstances, Naveen babu should quit the CM post as with him at the supreme helm of affairs, the State cannot conduct the prosecution properly.

From the very beginning of his speech, ruling party backbenchers as well as distinguished heavyweights were wildly roaring to suppress him. At a point, the Leader of Opposition had to rise to ask the Speaker as to whether that was the manner of debate he was supposed to preside over? And, whether that was the pattern of protection he was legally required to provide to members speaking on call? Then for a few minutes the ruling party loudmouths abstained from shouting. But no sooner than that, Prasad was asked to cut short his speech in view of paucity of time. And the next from the notice givers was called upon to speak.

The debate is to continue in the second half of the day.

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