The quashing of the FIR lodged against the former DGP, Odisha, Prakash Mishra, presently posted as DG CRPF, by Orissa High Court has raised several uncomfortable questions for the Naveen Patnaik government, particularly the vigilance department of which he is the minister in charge.
Till date, it was the Opposition Congress which had charged that the BJD government ‘uses the vigilance as a sword against its opponents and the crime branch as a shield to protect its own men’. But Mishra&’s case was the first instance of public perception being in sync with that of the Opposition parties.
Mishra, widely regarded and respected as a honest officer who refused to bow to the diktats of ‘politicians’, was tipped to be the director of the CBI after Ranjit Sinha since he was one of the senior most IPS officers in the country.
His recommendation for Central deputation was initially okayed by the Naveen Patnaik government and then suddenly withdrawn, raising eyebrows in administrative circles. What made people sit up was the decision of the state government in September 2014 to file a case under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Mishra for alleged wrongdoings between 2006-10 when he was the CMD of Odisha State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation. Incidentally, Mishra was made the DGP of Odisha in 2012, much after his stint in OSHWC, by the same government.
Upset over this, Mishra had moved the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR. He contended, amongst other things, in his petition that “during the general elections (he was the DGP) large amount of unaccounted cash was seized by police and investigation of the chit fund cases and mining scam were sought to be politically coloured. He had refused to bow down to political pressure while discharging his responsibilities during these investigations”.
The petition had also alleged that the case was a move to prevent him from being considered for any sensitive post “wherein he would be in charge of criminal investigation wherein officers and ministers are involved either as accused, witness or suspects”.
Justice S C Parija, in his order dated 19 June quashed the FIR, against Mishra saying the allegations made in the FIR, materials available in the case diary and even the materials pointed out by the vigilance counsel, do not constitute or disclose commission of any cognizable offence.
The vigilance department came in for severe indictment as the court held “the entire action of the vigilance authorities smacks of arbitrary and mala fide exercise of power with the oblique motive to harass the petitioner and damage their reputation”.
The vigilance authorities have proceeded in the matter with a predetermined agenda to implicate the petitioner, irrespective of whether any material is available to substantiate the allegations, noted Justice Parija.
Even more telling was the observation by Justice Parija that “It is not very uncommon in our country that honest and upright public servants with unimpeachable integrity and having impeccable track record are often hounded by the ruling political establishment for extraneous consideration.”
The judge has come down heavily on the director, vigilance, for “allowing the re- -port of a sham enquiry to be accepted and giving his consent for seeking approval of the state government for registration of criminal cases against the petitioners clearly shows that he was more concerned in exhibiting his loyalty to the ruling political establish