Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

In a major turn of events in connection with the unnatural death of former Parlakhemundi Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, the Odisha Crime Branch on Friday said that the deceased officer’s wife Bidya Bharati Panda is the accused in the case who has been chargesheeted. 

“A 300 page chargesheet has been filed against ‘accused’ Bidya Bharati in the SDJM Court in Paralakhemundi,” said Crime Branch ADG Sanjeeb Panda at a press meet on Saturday.

He said Bidya Bharati has been charged for negligence as she did not make adequate efforts to save her husband (Soumya) who she founded engulfed in fire on July 11 night.   

“Bidya Bharati has been booked under Sections 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 304-A (Causing death by negligence) of the IPC. She did not try enough to extinguish the flames and save her husband while he was caught in a fire,” said Panda.

Bidya Bharat has also been issued a notice under Section 41 of CrPC (which empowers the investigating officer (IO) to summon her for appearance), he said.

Giving details about the chargesheet, the ADG said it has been prepared on the basis of the facts obtained during the investigation so far. The statements of as many as 81 persons have been recorded during the investigation process. Those will be examined in the court during the trial.

“An extensive investigation in this case was carried out by our team to examine all aspects,” said Panda.

On Friday, the Crime Branch gave clean chit to DFO Sangram Keshari Behera and Cook Manmath Kumbha who were named in the FIR. The duo has not been named in the 300-page Crime Branch chargesheet.

On the other hand, family members of the deceased officer have expressed their dissatisfaction over the Crime Branch investigation.

“The penal Sections applied Crime Branch against Vidya Bharati will be difficult to prove in the Court,” said Parthasarathi Nayak, the lawyer of Somya’s family.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Soumya’s father, who expressed his dissatisfaction over the Crime Branch investigation, has moved the High Court demanding CBI probe into the case.