Himansu Shekhar Rout

The SDJM court in Bhubaneswar has sought permission from a competent authority to file an FIR against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and start an investigation into the land acquisition by Vedanta Foundation to set up a university near Puri-Konark Marine Drive.

The Court observed this while hearing a petition seeking an FIR against the CM and a probe into the controversial land deal. 

Notably, the Supreme Court on April 13, 2023, had pulled up the Odisha government for showing ‘mala fide’ intent and ‘undue favour" to the Vedanta Foundation in land acquisition for a university.

Following this development, Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan(NNKS), a farmers’ body, filed an FIR at Capital Police Station against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the chairman of the Vedanta Foundation, Anil Agarwal on October 17, 2023. 

However, the IIC had not registered a case.  

Challenging the inaction of the IIC, the Convenor of NNKS, Akshay Kumar moved the SDJM court which held a hearing of the case on April 25. 
The court said, “Suspect No. 1, in the Complaint Petition, is the Chief Minister of Odisha & he is a public servant who is indubitable. At this point in time, the Court is of the humble view that sanction as per Section 197 of Cr.P.C. from competent authority would be the pre-requisite for invoking the jurisdiction vested in Court U/s. 156(3) of Cr.P.C.” 

The court can take up the hearing of the case only after the petitioner submits permission from the competent authority. The next hearing of the case will be held on May 7. 

However, no reaction was received from the Odisha government and the Vedanta Foundation. 

NNKS waiting for Governor's nod

Sibananda Ray, the counsel of the petitioner, said, ”Registration of a case against the CM requires sanction under section - 156(3) of Cr.P.C. Petitioner Akshay Kumar has prayed to the Odisha Governor for his sanction. The Governor has not given the sanction in this regard. For investigation, we will go to the upper court.”   

State convenor of NNKS, Seshadev Nanda said, "The court says police has no power to register a case against the Chief Minister, which is a constitutional post. The court has sought permission from the Governor. If two Chief Ministers, Jayalalitha and Lalu Yadav could be jailed, why this clause be applicable in the case of Naveen Patnaik? We will personally meet the Governor for clearance.”