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Court orders fresh probe against Odisha Minister Pratap Jena in murder case

The court’s order had come in the wake of protest petition filed by Ramakanta Baral, son of one deceased BJP leader Kulamani Baral.

SNS | Bhubaneswar |

The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court in Salipur has ordered a fresh investigation against Odisha law minister Pratap Kumar Jena in a case of murder of two BJP leaders seven months back in Mahanga police station area in Cuttack district.

The court’s order had come in the wake of a protest petition filed by Ramakanta Baral, son of one deceased BJP leader Kulamani Baral.

Kulamani Baral, former Mahanga Block chairperson and senior BJP leader brutally hacked to death along with his associate Dibyasingh Baral in Nrutanga village in Cuttack district on 2 January this year.

The opposition parties- BJP and Congress had earlier alleged the minister Jena’s involvement in the double murder case and had demanded his arrest under section-302 (murder). The minister’s alleged involvement in the murder case had also rocked the State assembly.

“A thorough investigation is required in the light of the allegations by the informant in the protest petition against Pratap Kumar Jena. Therefore, the Inspector-in-charge Mahanga police station is directed to take up further investigation of the case as expeditiously as possible and submit report in accordance with section 173 (8) of Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC)”,  the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Salipur ordered.

“Once conscience of the court is satisfied from the materials on record that the police have not investigated properly or apparently are remiss in the investigation, the court has a bounden constitutional obligation to ensure that the investigation is conducted in accordance with the law,” it observed.

“If the police do not perform its statutory duty in accordance with law or are remiss in the performance of its duty, the court cannot abdicate its duties on the precocious plea that investigation is an exclusive prerogative of police”, the court stated citing a verdict of the apex court.

The complainant had filed First Information Report (FIR) against 13 persons including the minister Jena. However the local police while filing the charge-sheet of the much-publicized murder case had dropped Jena’s name from it. The investigating officer acted in partisan manner and was pressurized by the minister, who is a powerful minister in the State cabinet, alleged the protest petition.

The investigation done by the investigating officer is perfunctory as he has completely overlooked the allegation against Pratap Kumar Jena even though his name found place in the FIR, it added.