Chit fund probe panel head attends BJD event; gets flak

Cuttack: At a time when the chit fund heat is refusing to die down with Opposition demanding the scalp of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Dasburma for his alleged involvement in the Artha Tatwa (AT) chit fund scam, retired High Court judge Justice MM Das, who is heading chit fund scam probe panel, invited criticism after attending the birth anniversary programme of Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das here on Thursday.

While Das was the chief guest at the event organised by BJD Lawyers’ Forum, Law minister Arun Sahu was the guest of honour on the occasion. The programme was attended by Barabati-Cuttack legislator Debasis Samantaray and several other BJD leaders.

Slamming Das for attending the programme, BJP legislator Pradeep Purohit said, “It is unfortunate that the retired judge, who is heading the Commission for an impartial probe into the chit fund scam, attended the meeting. I condemn the incident. Since the event was organised by a political party, we demand that he should not continue as the head of the Commission investigating the multi thousand crore chit fund scam.”

He apprehended that the investors would lose faith in the government, which has assured an unbiased investigation of the scam.

The Congress party also joined chorus against Justice Das.

“I am not in favour of a Judicial Commission attending the function of a political party. In my opinion, he should not have attended the programme,” Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra stated.

Addressing a press conference, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Prasad Harichandan stated the party doubted the neutrality of the Commission.

“Today’s incident has proved that the Commission, set up for an impartial probe has been influenced.”

A cornered BJD, however, tried to wash its hands off the issue saying the event was not a party event as alleged.

“Since he is a retired judge, I have nothing to say on with his decision about attending a programme. I should not interfere in his meetings and schedules. Besides, the lawyers’ outfit is not a political institution;it provides legal aid to the poor and underprivileged…It is not a wing of BJD,” BJD spokesperson Ananta Das said.

In his defense, Das maintained that there is no barrier on attending such social functions.

“I believe there is no issue attending a judges’ gathering. I have attended the programme as a retired judge not as a Commission head. What I have stated in the meeting is my personal opinion and the ruling government has nothing to do with it. I know my job very well,” Das stated.