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Saswat Singhdeo

Kendrapara: Almost seven months after Congress MLA from Rajnagar Anshuman Mohanty levelled serious allegations of irregularities in paddy procurement which was subsequently telecast by OTV, BJD leader and Kendrapara district president Dhruba Sahoo has moved court, filing a defamation case against the legislator and the channel.

"I have got clean chit in the inquiry conducted by honourable CAG and Registrar of Cooperative society, which ended today. Hence, I have registered a criminal defamation case at the Rajnagar JMFC court," Sahoo said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the paddy procurement scam worth lakhs of rupees was exposed in the special audit held in June 2017. Subsequently, the State government had ordered a Vigilance probe into the case last year. But the investigation report is yet to be out.

OTV had telecast a report regarding the alleged irregularities in paddy procurement in Kendrapara on April 8, 2018. The report was based on the allegation of the Rajnagar MLA who had written to Vigilance and Odisha CM twice on the irregularities.

However, lawyers have opined that since the news was telecast on the basis of the investigation report of special squad of Food Supplies department and Marketing Federation Limited (Markfed), filing a case is illogical.

"There can't be a defamation case filed in this case because that can be done only when there is a false allegation," said senior advocate Manas Mohapatra.

While the value of paddy per quintal was between Rs 800 and Rs 900 in 2015-16, it was procured by the State government at Rs 1410.

As per the allegations, Sahoo and another BJD leader Pramod Samal had forced a Markfed official to submit a report of 21, 000 quintals whereas only 13, 787.66 quintal was actually purchased.

"When I had joined Markfed, I observed some irregularities. Nearly paddy worth Rs 3 crore was bought through dalals. I have given all information to the head office," said former manager of Marfed AkshayMahapatra.

Commenting on the issue, Congress MLA Anshuman Mohanty, who had earlier written a letter to the Chief Minister alleging scam said, “I dare Sahoo to file defamation case against all the media houses.”

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