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Land grab case: Orissa HC refuses to quash FIR against BJP leader Baijayant Panda

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has refused to quash an FIR against BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda and his entrepreneur wife Jagi Mangat Panda for alleged grabbing of land, belonging to Dalit community, by a company promoted by the family. The FIR was registered on October 31, under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the crime branch of the state police.

Dismissing a petition filed in this regard by the Odisha Infratech Pvt Ltd, a company in which Baijayant Panda and his wife are major shareholders and promoters, Justice B P Routray on Friday also vacated an interim protection given to the couple by the high court earlier.

In an interim order, the High Court on November 5 had restrained the police from arresting the couple in connection with the case pending against them before the Khurda district and sessions court.

The FIR against the BJP leader and his wife inter alia, pertains to an alleged fraud by their company in purchasing patches of land, measuring over seven acres, on the outskirts of the state capital.

The FIR said that the land initially belonged to at least 22 scheduled caste persons and the vendors had sold them to an employee of the company, also from the SC community, who was used as a "sham purchaser".

The company had argued that the land deal does not attract relevant provisions of the IPC and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

"The alleged action may attract offence under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act", the petition said, adding that even if the allegations are taken at face value, they do not prima facie constitute an offence.

Rejecting the arguments of the petitioner, the High Court said, "The allegations (in the FIR) prima facie satisfies the ingredients for offences under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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