Tainted politicians: 332 cases pending against former & sitting Odisha lawmakers

Bhubaneswar: In what could be a worrying sign ahead of 2019 elections, Odisha has been ranked second after Uttar Pradesh in the country for the having highest number of criminal cases against sitting and former elected representatives including MLAs and members of Parliament (MPs).

A whopping 332 cases are registered against former and sitting Odisha lawmakers with highest of 33 cases including five murder cases registered against former Congress MLA Ramesh Jena. Similarly, 20 cases are registered against former Congress MLA, Yudhistir Samantaray.

MLA George Tirkey has 27 cases, 12 cases against Tara Prasad Bahinipati while 23 cases are pending against BJD’s Braja Pradhan as per the report submitted in Supreme Court by amicus curiae Vijay Hansaria.

The report reveals that 4,122 cases are pending against sitting and former lawmakers of Parliament and the State legislatures. Of this, 2,324 cases are pending against sitting lawmakers and 1,675 against former lawmakers. Hansaria further mentioned that of the 4,122 cases, charges are yet to be framed in 1,991 cases.

“We are working for public and during any protest or agitation, cases are registered against us and it needs to be seen whether it comes under cognizable offences or not,” said Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi.

BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash stated “Attempt-to-murder cases are registered against politicians during their political career which doesn’t have any relevance. One needs to study case by case before jumping to any conclusion.”

Expressing concern over the pendency of cases, the Supreme Court has directed all High Courts to allocate the cases to Sessions Courts and Magisterial Courts instead of conducting trials in magisterial courts designated in each districts.

The apex court is also of the view that hearing of cases against present and former members of Parliament and State assemblies involving serious and punishable offences should be taken up on priority basis in designated special courts.
The hearing on the matter will be held in Supreme Court on December 14.

Former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda in a tweet also expressed concerns over Odisha ranking second as far as the number of cases against sitting and former lawmakers is concerned.

“At a time when we are cheering up for team India at the Men’s Hockey World Cup, such news is certainly unfortunate. I have been pressing for fast track courts for trial of such criminal cases and allegations against lawmakers,” wrote Panda.