Orissa: UCC petition dismissed by HC

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Cuttack, Nov 18: The Orissa High Court has dismissed a petition by Utkal Christian Council (UCC) challenging the appointment of former Orissa Lok Pal and retired High court judge S C Mohapatra as the one man commission to probe the communal violence in Kandhamal.

A division bench of the High Court comprising chief Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan and Justice B N Mohapatra, which heard the petition of the council yesterday, ruled that the appointment of Justice Mohapatra by the Orissa government was not in violation of the section 53 of the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Act as contended by the petitioner.

The state government has nominated Justice Mohapatra to head the one man commission to probe into the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples by unknown assailants on the night of August 23 and the subsequent communal violence that gripped the Kandhamal district.

The Council challenged the appointment citing that as per the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Act a former Lok Pal could not be appointed directly or indirectly by the state.

The Division bench while citing several supreme court rulings, observed that the appointment of the Commission could not be construed as employment under the government.

The council, represented through its secretary Jyotsna Rani Patro, had filed the writ application describing the appointment of the Justice as illegal.

''The court, however, dismissed the plea on the ground that the commission of inquiry is not a government service so as to come within the purview of the word 'employment' and upheld the appointment of Justice Mohapatra to head the one man commission.

UNI

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