BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda
BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda
PTI Photo

Netizens on Twitter were seen to be trending the hashtag #ArrestJayPanda on Tuesday, demanding the arrest of BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda who, along with his wife, is involved in a court case for alleged grabbing of land, belonging to Dalit community, by a company promoted by the family.

Twitterati seemed miffed by the fact that there are several alleged cases of "criminal" offences against the leader, who has been blessed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with an important position in the party.

Read some of the tweets here:

What is the case against Jay Panda?

The Orissa High Court yesterday refused to quash an FIR against BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda and his entrepreneur wife Jagi Mangat Panda for alleged grabbing of land, belonging to Dalit community, by a company promoted by the family.

The FIR was registered on October 31, under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the crime branch of the state police.

The FIR against the BJP leader and his wife inter alia pertains to alleged fraud by their company in purchasing patches of land, measuring over seven acres, on the outskirts of the state capital.

The FIR said that the land initially belonged to at least 22 scheduled caste persons and the vendors had sold them to an employee of the company, also from the SC community, who was used as a "sham purchaser".

The company had argued that the land deal does not attract relevant provisions of the IPC and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

"The alleged action may attract offence under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act", the petition said, adding that even if the allegations are taken at face value, they do not prima facie constitute an offence.

However, the High Court has already rejected that argument.

Rejecting the arguments of the petitioner, the High Court said, "The allegations (in the FIR) prima facie satisfy the ingredients for offences under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Naming Baijayant Panda and his wife Jagi Mangat Panda, Managing Director of Odia news channel OTV, as promoters of the Odisha Infratech, the EOW had earlier said that the company used a driver of one of the directors, to act as a conduit to purchase the land.

Over seven acres was purchased by the company in the name of one Rabi Sethi, the EOW had said.

The land bought in 2010 to 2013 in Sethi's name and later sold in 2016 and 2019 to OIPL was never in the possession of Sethi, the EOW said.

Meanwhile, Jagi Mangat Panda in a statement denied the allegations levelled against them and alleged that the Odisha police in the past two months has registered about 20 "false cases" against OTV, its sister companies, employees and her family members, including her 84-year-old father.

"We vehemently deny the allegations. There has been no wrongdoing by us and we are confident that this will be ultimately proved in the courts.

"We assert that these cases are being orchestrated by the BJD government in Odisha, because of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaiks personal vendetta against us," Panda alleged in the statement.

The war between Panda and the BJD has turned into a political battle with the BJD MP in October raising the issue in parliament.

In the past, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Chandrani Murmu had requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to initiate breach of privilege proceedings against Odisha TV (OTV) run by the family of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national Vice President Baijayant `Jay` Panda.

(With inputs from agencies)

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in