Why was Odisha AG’s resignation accepted four months late?

Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Sep 13:

Why did it take Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik nearly four months to accept advocate general Ashok Mohanty’s resignation? Why did he suddenly become a hot potato for the chief minister? Did the decision have something to with a property deal between Mohanty and AT group chief Pradip  Sethy?

These are the questions that are being discussed ad nauseam in informed circles in the state capital since the time news about the acceptance of the resignation of the former advocate general broke today.

Ashok Mohanty
Ashok Mohanty

Though the former advocate would have us believe that he was only upholding the highest traditions of democracy by tendering his resignation on May 17 at the end of the term of the last government, there are not many who are willing to buy the explanation.

If sources are to be believed, the sudden but much delayed acceptance of Mohanty’s resignation was prompted by the realisation that the former advocate general could be questioned by the CBI, which is probing the mega chit fund in the state, in connection with his deal with Sethy.

Mohanty, it may be noted, had purchased a plot of land measuring 4000 sq ft, in Sector-11 in Bidanasi project area, Markat Nagar, Cuttack, along with a two-storey building constructed on it, from Pradip Sethy.

Sethy had purchased the plot, originally allotted to Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra, currently the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court, by the Cuttack Development Authority (CDA) under the discretionary quota on May 25, 2007.

The deal between Mohanty and Sethy has raised eyebrows because the former had paid Rs 1, 00, 01, 000 for the land and the building which the latter had purchased from Justice Mohapatra for Rs, 1, 00, 00, 000 -just Rs 1, 000 more- on February 14, 2011.

CDA formally intimated Sethy about the change of ownership on March 22, 2013, nearly a month and half after a case of cheating and forgery was registered by Kharavela Nagar police station against him on February 7. A similar case had already been registered against Sethy and some of his staff at the Balasore Town police station on October 6, 2012.

In his statement recorded with Kharavela Nagar police station under sec 161 of Cr PC (a copy of which is in possession of OST), Sethy had denied the charge that he had sold the property ‘under rate’ (sic) and claimed that he had actually sold it for more than the price he had bought it for! What he did not explain was how the ‘market rate’ that he claimed to have sold the property for, appreciated by just Rs 1, 000 in 597 days.

The question that begs an answer is: why did Mohanty who, as the top law officer of the state, should have known the danger that such a deal was fraught with, go ahead with it even after Sethy had been implicated for cheating?

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