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Maneka petitions EC to disqualify Cong MLA in Orissa

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, June 7: Wildlife activist and MP Maneka Gandhi has demanded disqualification of a Congress MLA in Orissa, saying he had been charge-sheeted under the Wildlife Protection Act in a poaching case but had withheld the information from the Election Commission at the time of filing nominations.

She has brought the case to the notice of the Election Commission and also the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court in separate letters, copies of which were released to the media today.

Ms Gandhi said it was unfortunate that the case had been dragging on for the past 15 years.

She said the MLA, L B Mahapatra, representing Brahmogiri in Puri district of Orissa, is accused of illegally entering the Satkosia sanctuary with armed persons in 1991. He was caught by forest officials and booked under the Wildlife Protection Act.

He was, however, given bail by the subdivisional judicial magistrate, which, she said, was granted illegally as the official had no powers to do that in such a case.

Ms Gandhi in her letters said the MLA later contested the 2004 Assembly elections without showing the case against him. She requested the Election Commissioner to take up the matter as soon as possible.

She said that if the Election Commission did not act in the matter, it would be like making a mockery of the election process and the Commission's order.

In her letter to the state Chief Justice, Ms Gandhi urged him to expedite the matter which had been dragging on for the past 15 years.

''This only reinforces the belief that in India wildlife violations are not treated with seriousness. Orissa today is one of the main centres of wildlife crime and it is important that the message be sent across by courts that it will not be tolerated,'' she said.


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