Christian body in Orissa moves court for change of judge

November 8th, 2008 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 8 (IANS) A Christian body has moved the Orissa High Court seeking to change the judge heading the judicial commission appointed by the government to probe into communal violence in the state, a lawyer said Saturday.The Orissa government appointed S.C. Mohapatra, a retired judge of the Orissa High Court, this September to the one-man judicial commission that will probe into the killing of a Hindu leader Aug 23 and into the communal violence that followed.

The Utkal Christian Council represented through its secretary Jyotsna Rani Patro filed a writ application in the Orissa High court Friday describing the appointment of Justice Mohapatra as illegal, the council’s lawyer Prasanna Kumar Nanda told IANS.

“Mohapatra, a former Lok Pal (vigilance body member), cannot be appointed to head the commission because he is not eligible as per law,” Nanda said.

“As per section 5 of the Lokpal Act on ceasing to hold office the Lokpal or Lokayukta shall be ineligible for further appointment under the state government,” he said.

“The council in its petition has requested the court to declare the appointment of Justice Mohapatra as illegal. The council has also said that the court may appoint any person or direct the government to appoint some other person,” he said.

Kandhamal district, some 200 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, witnessed communal violence after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his aides at the Jalespata Ashram Aug 23.

At least 38 persons were killed and over 23,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes. While some have returned, more than 10,000 are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

The murder of 40-year-old Dhanu Pradhani, an activist of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by suspected Maoists on Nov 5 has now rekindled tension in the region.

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