Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Apr 10:
The Supreme Court today asked the Odisha government to “put its house in order” after chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati sought to explain away the state’s failure to depute a counsel for hearing in a case relating to posting of sexually explicit videos on WhatsApp saying he did not receive the notice ‘in time’.
“This is too much. Put your house in order,” a social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said when senior advocate L Nageswar Rao, appearing for the Odisha official, said the authorities did not receive the court’s notice on time.
The chief secretary, however, made no reference to the court’s stinging observation while briefing reporters after his deposition and sought to create an impression that everything was honky dory.
“We submitted an affidavit in the court apprising it that the state has taken necessary action as directed by the court. Earlier, the lawyer representing the state was not able to appear in the court making the court ask for a personal appearance. We have taken necessary action and will continue to do as directed by the court,” said Pati after his deposition in the apex court.
It may be noted that during the last hearing of the case on March 20, the Supreme Court had directed the Odisha chief secretary to be present in the court on April 10 for the failure of the state government in responding to the notice issued by the court in connection with the rape video case now being probed by the CBI on its directions.
“Something is wrong with Odisha,” the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit had observed when counsel for the state did not respond when called by the court on March 20.
The court had also imposed a Rs 50,000 fine on Odisha government after it failed to respond to the notice issued by the court and depute a counsel to represent it in the court during the previous hearing of the case on March 13. Odisha earned the ire of the court for its repeat act of not being present in the court through its counsel when the case was called out for hearing on March 20.
While directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the rape video sent to Chief Justice of India (CJI) H.L. Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala in a pen drive along with a letter on February 27, the apex court had issued notices to the central, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana and Delhi governments in the matter.
The CBI, it may be noted, has arrested a builder Subrat Sahu alias Kalia and his associate Bunty from Bhubaneswar and is on the lookout for two more persons in this case who are Sahu’s lawyer and driver. Sahu had allegedly indulged in sexual act with his receptionist and had filmed it on a mobile phone camera. Later he had released video clippings of the sexual act on WhatsApp and the social media.