CBI should not prolong chit fund probe: Dama

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Bhubaneswar: Senior BJD leader Damodar Rout on Wednesday said the CBI, which is probing the multi-crore chit fund scam in Odisha, should not prolong its investigation indefinitely.

The statement of Rout came in the wake of opposition political parties demanding a CBI probe into the link of senior BJD leader and Food Supply and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Das Burma with Pradip Sethi, managing director of Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, a chit fund company.

Talking to media persons here, Rout said no one has any conclusive proof on the links of the minister with the chit fund company. But efforts are on to ‘tini tundare chheli kukura’ (an Odia colloquialism that means repeating something to pass off as truth something that is not a fact). The outcome will be known in course of time, he added.

Rout said after reports of chit fund scam were flashed in the media, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had immediately ordered a Vigilance probe. The Vigilance officials, in course of their investigation, had seized the properties worth Rs 300 crores belonging to some chit fund companies. While a number of chit fund company officials were arrested, properties of some chit fund companies were also confiscated at that time.

But he said when the Vigilance probe was in full swing, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on the chit fund scam in Odisha based on which the apex court ordered a CBI probe. The opposition political parties at that time were of the opinion that the CBI can effectively probe the case as they were not satisfied with the Vigilance probe.

“There is no denying the fact the CBI is probing the chit fund scam. What I want to say is that the CBI should complete its investigation within a specified time frame instead of prolonging it for an indefinite period,” he pointed out.

Replying to a question on the recent statement of Pradip Sethi, managing director of Artha Tatwa (AT) Group to the media that he had never gifted a Pajero SUV to Food Supply and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Das Burma, Rout asked how come that Sethi could give his statement to the media while he is inside the jail?

“If a criminal is able to give his statement to the media while he is in jail, then it should be construed that there is no privacy in the investigation. A criminal, who some days ago had told the media that he has gifted a vehicle to Das Burma, has now done a volte face saying that he has never gifted a vehicle to him. Should there be a debate on something based on the statement of a criminal? The Opposition leaders, who have links with Sethi, might be knowing him better than me as I have no link with any chit fund company,” Rout added.

He further said there are numerous instances in which the criminals are found to have changed their statements frequently while being produced in the court.

“In criminology, the criminals, who give their statement to the magistrate as per 164 of the IPC at the time of being sent to jail, tend to get influenced at the time of being produced in the court and give statements contrary to the statement they had given to the magistrate earlier,” he pointed out.

He said considering the magnitude of the chit fund scam, the CBI should do the needful to ensure that criminals like Pradip Sethi, are not able to give their statements to the media.

Asked about the demand of the Opposition for the ouster of Dasburma from his post, Rout said in politics, people are not brought to the party after a blood test.

“A party is formed by a group of like-minded people. But how one can know about the character of a person who is inducted in the party? If that person is found guilty of committing crime, the party should not be blamed. It is a matter of an individual, not the party. In this context, I would like to say that those who embrace politics should try their best to safeguard their honour, failing which, no one will come to their rescue,” he observed.

Asked to comment on the statement of Rout, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said he has nothing to say on this. “This is his personal opinion,” he told OTV.

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