Odisha chit fund probe panel chief in soup over remarks 

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Apr 28:

Retired Orissa High Court judge Justice MM Das who is heading the Commission of Inquiry on chit fund scam in Odisha today courted controversy for attending a function of the BJD Legal Forum to mark Madhubabu Jayanti and making a statement there as well.

justice MM Das

“When somebody has invested money in some company both (company and investor) enter into an agreement on how the investor would get back his money. Why should the government now compensate investors from its coffers when fraud has occurred?  Still then since a large number of people are victims of the fraud the government is taking steps so that they get their money refunded,” Justice Das had told addressing the function which has stirred a hornet’s nest.

Opposition parties both Congress and BJP have decried Justice Das attending a function of the ruling party.

While opposition Congress has called it improper on the part of Justice Das being the head of an Inquiry Commission attending a party programme, the BJP has called it unfortunate and moved a step further by suggesting that he should quit as the head of the Commission of Inquiry.

“Being the Judicial Commission it was not appropriate on his part to attend a party programme. In my opinion, it was not proper on his part to participate in a function of the ruling party. What appears from his statement is the government’s mindset which doesn’t want to refund money to the chit fund investors,” commented Narasingha Mishra Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly and senior Congress leader.

“Justice Das attending that function is unfortunate, I condemn it. He should quit from the chairman’s post of the Inquiry Commission,” said Pradip Purohit BJP MLA in his comments on the issue.

However, Justice Das has defended his action.

“I had gone there as a retired judge, not as the chairperson of the Inquiry Commission. There is no problem in a retired judge attending a function of the BJD’s Legal Front. Whatever I told was my personal opinion, the government has no role in it. I am doing my job perfectly, some people have also received refunds,” said Justice Das on the controversy that has erupted.

“I find no reason for such debate on my opinion. The Commission of Inquiry is functioning as per the decision of the government. It is identifying small investors. It’s working on how they will get refunds. I had told there that those who had invested in chit fund companies under the influence of greed without keeping an eye on interest offered by banks. This is not the government’s view. Out of the companies served with notices, many have started refunding money to their depositors. Over a 1000 people have got refunds,” Justice Das further said.

Justice Das said attending any function is my personal affair and it has nothing to do with the Commission’s work.

I hadn’t gone there on the basis of which leader was attending that function or which party had organized it, he added.

“I had gone there because over 300 lawyers were attending that function and I wanted to share my experience with them which could help them in their style of functioning and this should not be politicized,” Justice Das stated.

However, the BJD has attempted to distance itself from the controversy.

“Legal Forum is not an extension of the BJD, it is a social organization. It is Justice Das who can only tell why he participated,” said Ananta Das BJD chief whip in the State Assembly.

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