BHUBANESWAR: The demand for removal of justice MM Das, retired judge of the Odisha High Court, as the head of the probe panel on the multicrore chit fund scam, continued in the assembly for the second day on Saturday with the Opposition members disrupting the proceedings during the pre-lunch session.
Congress members rushed to the well as soon as the question hour started shouting slogans forcing Speaker Niranjan Pujari to adjourn the house only after two minutes till 11.30 am. The house was adjourned again when it reassembled at 11.30 am till 12.30 pm and then till 3 pm as the Opposition Congress and BJP members continued their slogan shouting demanding the removal of retired judge Das as the probe panel head.
Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said as per the Commissions of Inquiry Act, retired justice Das cannot attend a function organised by a political party. "How can the inquiry be impartial when he speaks in favour of the government in a function organised by the BJD," Mishra asked.
The leader of the Opposition also criticised the silence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik on the issue. Mishra said ignoring opposition is a threat to democracy. "The state government should ask the retired judge Das to resign, failing which he should be removed," Mishra said. BJP member Pradeep Purohit also demanded the removal of the probe panel head for attending a function organised by the ruling BJD and speaking in favour of the state government.
However, government chief whip Anant Das said that the state government has no role in what the retired justice at the function. The panel has been asked to identify small investors and to refund investors' money is responsibility of the government, he said.
The retired judge had reportedly said in the meeting that investing in chit fund companies had taken the shape of a cottage industry in the state and poor people had invested in these companies out of sheer greediness.
Giving a clean chit to the state government, Justice Das had wondered in his address as to why the state government should take the responsibility of returning investors' money.
Although Justice Das has subsequently clarified that what he said was his personal opinion and had nothing to do with the probe panel, the Opposition political parties had taken up the issue by demanding his resignation.