BHUBANESWAR: The Lokayukta on Friday directed the state Vigilance to probe into the corruption charges made against arrested Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi.
The Lokayukta has also asked the Vigilance Directorate to conduct a preliminary inquiry against Panigrahi and submit a report within two months.
The anti-corruption ombudsman issued the direction after accepting the recommendation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who had referred the case of corruption charges levelled against the lawmaker on December 7.
This is the first such corruption allegation against any politician in Odisha referred by the state government to the Lokayukta after its creation.
Earlier on December 3, the CID Crime Branch of Odisha Police had arrested Panigrahi in connection with a case of cheating.
It is alleged that Panigrahi had collected money on behalf of Akash Kumar Pathak by falsely promising jobs in a reputed company.
A case relating to impersonation, cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and other cyber offences are made against Panigrahi and his associate Akash Kumar Pathak, also the son of suspended Indian Forest Service officer Abhay Kant Pathak.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on November 29 had expelled Panigrahi from the primary membership of the ruling BJD on charge of "anti-people activities" after the lawmaker was allegedly found cheating the youths.
Panigrahi is presently lodged in the Special Jail at Jharpada in the state capital after his bail plea was rejected by Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) Court, Bhubaneswar on December 3.
The Crime Branch has registered the case against Panigrahi under various sections of IPC and IT Act.
The complaint prima-facie reveals that Panigrahi by resorting to corrupt practice has amassed assets disproportionate to his known source of income.
Panigrahi, however, rejected all allegations against him and claimed that he was a victim of political vendetta.
"The case against me was made after I raised voice against mismanagement in the COVID-19 management in the state, particularly in Ganjam district," Panigrajhi had told reporters before being sent to jail.