Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a brief relief for Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Pratap Jena, the Orissa High Court on Thursday stayed any coercive action against him proceeded by the Salipur JMFC court in the Mahanga double murder case. The case has been listed for the next hearing on December 19.

The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Salipur had taken cognisance of offenses against Jena as an accused in the Mahanga double murder case in its September 25 order. After going through the statements of the complainant, witnesses, and other available materials on record, the court ordered a prima facie case punishable for the offences under sections 302, 506, 120 B of the Indian Penal Code to be made against accused Jena.

Jena was asked by the court to depose before it on October 31, 2023. A summon in this regard was served by the court to the MLA through a special messenger.

However, Jena skipped the hearing on October 31 and presented his stand in JMFC court through his lawyer. Moreover, he urged the court to exempt him from personal appearance as per section 205 of IPC citing illness.

On the same day, Jena filed a petition in the High Court challenging the cognisance order by the JMFC court urging the court to quash it. He even requested the High Court to put an immediate stay on the proceedings by the JMFC court.

Hearing the case, the High Court provided interim relief to Jena and stayed the coercive action by the JMFC court for the time being. Feeling the importance of the case, the HC called for all the records pertaining to the case from the JMFC.

Notably, BJP leader Kulamani Baral, who was the block chairman of Mahanga and his associate Dibyasingha Baral were brutally killed by unidentified miscreants on January 2, 2021, while they were returning home on a motorbike. Later, the prime accused in the case-Prafulla Biswal was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

The family of the deceased alleged that both Kulamani and Dibyasingha Barala were murdered on the orders of Pratap Jena.

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