Ruckus in House demanding ouster of chit fund panel head

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Assembly was adjourned for the third time on Saturday as the Opposition Congress and BJP members rushed to the well of the House and created a ruckus demanding the removal of Justice MM Das from the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry.

As soon as the question hour began in the House, the Congress and BJP members rushed to the well of the House demanding the ouster of Justice Das from the Commission of Inquiry. Amidst the uproar, Speaker Niranjan Puri adjourned the House till 11 AM. The House could only run for only two minutes.

The House was adjourned for the second time till 12.30 PM and again for the third time till 3 PM as the impasse prevailed.

Talking to media persons later, senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said his party had served notice to the Speaker for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue.

“We have repeatedly told the state government that the statement, behaviour and activities of the chairman of the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry are deplorable. We had also sought a reply from the chief minister in the House. But as the chief minister does not have faith in democracy, he has paid no heed to the Opposition demand. For his nonchalant attitude, we had protested in the House today,” Mishra said.

In his reaction, Opposition chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said the state government has no intention to pay back money to about 30 lakh poor people, who had invested less than Rs 10,000 in the chit fund companies.

“Besides, the statement of Justice Das, who is heading the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry, has added salt to the injuries of these hapless investors. He has no moral right to continue as the chairman of the Inquiry Commission. We demand that the state government must ask Justice Das to step down or the latter should relinquish his post on moral grounds. We have placed out demand in the Assembly and have sought a clarification from the chief minister in this regard in the House so that the poor investors, who have lost hope of getting back their money, are able to repose their faith on the government,” Bahinipati told media persons.

Asked to comment on the stand of the ruling party that it is ready for a discussion on the matter, he said said the Opposition Congress has served several reminders to the Speaker and urged him to have a discussion over the issue through an adjournment motion, which has been summarily rejected.

“The statement the BJD spokespersons have given to the media about their stand on this issue is only to hoodwink the people of the state,” he observed.

Talking to OTV, Congress member Naba Das said let the media ask civil society in the state whether the statement of a former Justice of the Orissa High Court, who has been appointed by the state government as the chairman of the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry, at the BJD Lawyers’ Forum, acceptable in any way?

“We had sought a reply from the chief minister on why the state government is keen on providing protection to Justice Das,” he pointed out.

In his reply, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said the state government is aware of the plight of the poor people who have invested less than Rs 10,000 in these chit fund companies and has made a provision to create a corpus fund of Rs 300 crore to pay back their invested money. Apart from this, the government has also decided to pay money to them from the confiscated properties of these chit fund companies and initiated the process of confiscation.

Talking about Justice Das, he said the state government has appointed him to identify the small investors who have been duped by the chit fund companies and recommend to the government on the basis of the Terms of Reference for refund of money to them.

Replying to the allegation of the Opposition against Justice Das for attending a BJD meeting, Satpathy said the Justice had not attended any BJD meeting.

“In fact, he had attended the meeting organised by the BJD legal cell to observe the birth anniversary of Madhu Babu. Though Justice Das later told the media that the statement he had given at the meeting was in his personal capacity and not as the chairman of the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry, the Opposition should not harp on the same string, and instead cooperate with the government in running the House smoothly to take up other important issues for discussion,” he pointed out.

Notably, in his statement at the BJD legal cell meeting on Thursday, Justice Das had said people had invested their money in the chit fund company out of greed to get double the invested amount. Since the state government has no role in it, there is no need for it to refund duped money to these investors. If necessary, the government should provide them financial assistance like it does during natural calamities.

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