As anticipated and in a bow to the Naveen Patnaik Government, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered a CBI inquiry into the multi-crore chit fund scam in Odisha in which lakhs of depositors lost their hard-earned money.
The State Government had persistently avoided a CBI inquiry into the scam, in which several ruling party leaders including Ministers and MlAs are alleged to be involved.
The Government, which continued arguing that the ongoing probe into the scam by its police including the Crime Branch was sufficient, even spent huge amounts of money on lawyers to oppose a CBI inquiry in the court.
The Supreme Court, which pronounced its verdict in a PIl case filed by activist Alok Jena in the matter, said the CBI would be probing the chit fund scams in Odisha, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.
The court further said the CBI would inquire into the “larger conspiracy” angle in the multi-crore scam.
The affairs of as many as 44 chit fund companies in Odisha would be probed by the CBI. The court observed that the probe by the Odisha police was in the right direction, but it lacked reliability. A CBI probe would give a sense of credibility to the investigations, the court said, adding that the State police would assist the CBI in its task. The court has, however, not set a deadline by which the CBI would complete its inquiry.
The court hoped that the CBI would be impartial in its probe and would also trace the money trail in the scam which the State police have failed to do. The apex court, however, set aside suggestions that a committee comprising senior lawyers, retired DG-level police officials and others be constituted to assist the CBI probe, saying, if necessary, the court would itself monitor the case.
An elated Alok Jena, the PIl petitioner, said, “I am grateful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the Almighty. Although I have reasons to be very happy with the court order, I dedicate this victory to the poor people who invested their money in these fraud companies in good faith, the friends in the media and the civil society who stood by me all through.” Cong, BJP hail judgement: P2