Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 17:
Days after Odisha Vigilance raided a gas agency owned by Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s brother Soumendra Pradhan and lodged complaints against him, the Minister today said that law will take its own course and that nobody is above the law.
“The petrol pumps and gas agencies sell essential commodities and come under the Essential Commodities Act. It is the responsibility of both the State and the Union Government to implement this act. The State Government has the rights to undertake raids. As the minister of this department, I would like to say that action should be taken if the State Government feels that wrong has been committed by my brother or whosoever it is,” said Pradhan speaking to reporters today.
Questioned, if the Vigilance raids were BJD led State Government’s counter to recent CBI raids at the houses of various BJD leaders in and outside Odisha in connection with chit fund scam, Pradhan added, “A lot of money belonging to the poor has been looted in the chit fund scam. The CBI enquiry is being monitored by the Supreme Court. The investigating agency is doing its job. No one can influence or stop it. If there is anyone who believes, investigating agencies can be manipulated, they are grossly mistaken.”
“They (BJD) can make any allegation they want. Those who have erred are bound to be afraid of an investigation. More than the timing of investigation, what matters is if they will be led to a logical conclusion. This, being a Supreme Court monitored investigation, is being neither conducted only in Odisha nor happening for the first time.”
Pradhan, however, was mistaken on the point that the CBI investigation into the chit fund scam is being monitored by the Supreme Court. Even though the Apex court ordered the CBI to investigate the issue overturning an appeal by the State Government against it, the court back in April 2016 refused to monitor it.
Biju Janata Dal, on its part, attempted to de-link the CBI and Vigilance raids and took a stand justifying the Vigilance raids while denouncing the CBI raids.
“The Supreme Court of India once called CBI a caged parrot. That speaks volumes about the agency. After a two-three year long gap, they have started conducting raids at BJD leaders houses before the panchayat polls. That reveals their intention and who is behind the raids,” said BJD Spokesperson Samir Dash.
Dash, however, refuted the retribution angle behind the Vigilance raids and claimed that the state government agency had conducted the raids based on prior complaints.