Ramakanta Biswas

The Orissa High Court on Wednesday granted interim relief to Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs and Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu, in connection with an assault case registered against him at Baripada police station.

The interim relief will be effective for one month, protecting the Union Minister, who is facing serious charges of assault on two government officials, from arrest till March 8.

While granting the interim relief, the court laid down certain conditions that the Minister has to cooperate with the investigation and does not intimate the witnesses. Tudu will have to depose before the Investigating Officer (inspector-in-charge of Baripada police station) for questioning on March 4. 

The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for March 8. 

Senor lawyer Prasanna Kumar Padhi, who represented the case on behalf of Tudu, said the Minister denied having assaulted the two government officials and termed the allegations made in the FIR as a political vendetta against him. 

“During the hearing, we informed the court that the Minister denied the allegations. It is not believable that a responsible MP would show inappropriate behaviour to government officials,” Padhi said.  

“The complainants in the FIR were officers from planning department who are responsible for proper utilisation of the MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division Scheme) funds. Since the funds were not properly utilised, the Minister had certain complaints against the officials. However, he denied assaulting the duo,” Padhi added.

Tudu was accused of assaulting two Odisha government officials- Mayurbhanj District Deputy Director (Planning) Aswini Mallick and Assistant Director Debasish Mohapatra- with a chair at his party office on January 21. 

He had moved the Orissa HC on February 2 and filed for anticipatory bail apprehending arrest in the case.