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Dilip Kumar

Cuttack: The prime convict in the multi-crore Artha Tatwa chit fund scam, Pradeep Sethy, has to remain in jail for some more time as the Orissa High Court on Thursday rejected a writ petition filed by him claiming ‘double jeopardy’ for his release from jail.

‘Double jeopardy’ is a universally accepted principle that bars a person from being tried and convicted more than once for the same offence.

A two-member bench of justice Sanju Panda and justice SK Panigrahi heard Sethy’s petition and refused to quash all cases filed by the Odisha Government against him.

CBI counsel Sarthak Nayak said "The special CBI court had convicted Sethy in the chit fund scam after he pleaded guilty to his crime. After his conviction, the State Government had filed several cases against him. Sethy had challenged these cases in the High Court through a writ petition. In its prima facie judgement, the Court has refused to quash these cases."

The bench in its judgement said "There is no continuity in action in respect of the act of cheating of another complainant/victim. By no stretch of imagination can it be said that recurring series of similar transactions are the "same transaction". In view of the aforesaid, it is held that the present Petition filed on behalf of the petitioner is sans merits and thus fails. The Writ Petition accordingly stands dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs."

The court’s order came as a blow to the Artha Tatwa Group CMD, who has already spent seven years in jail since his arrest on May 13, 2013.

Sethy argued that no one can be tried and convicted for the same offence or even for a different offence based on the same facts. The petitioner said in his case the offences as well as the facts in all the complaints against him are the same - criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery for cheating.

Sethy alleged that he has been prosecuted and punished for the same offences contrary to the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India. He was convicted for the second time for the same offence and sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khurda on July 3, 2017. On November 15, 2017, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sambalpur, convicted and sentenced him to five years imprisonment, but with a direction that the sentence shall commence after the expiry of the sentence in the previous case.

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