The State Government on Wednesday suspended Jharsuguda District Magistrate and Collector Jyoti Ranjan Pradhan on the direction of the Orissa High Court for flouting the court’s order in an excise-related case.
Earlier, the High Court had ordered the Government not to take action against a foreign liquor shop owner as a case filed by him relating to opening of a liquor shop at Gandhi Chowk in Brajrajnagar town was subjudice.
One K Bina Patnaik was given a licence to open a liquor shop at Gandhi Chowk. But he could not open the shop due to protests by locals, for which he could neither lift
minimum granted quantity (MGQ) nor deposit required fees, which amounted to about Rs 1.12 crore.
While the district administration directed Patnaik to clear his dues, the latter moved the High Court seeking exemption of the payment as he was yet to open the FL shop. Conducting a hearing in April 2019, the High Court directed the Government not to take any action against the licence holder.
In July, the district excise authorities called a fresh tender for opening of liquor shops at different places in the district, including one at Gandhi Chowk.
Thereafter, a new licence was given to another person for the same place. Aggrieved by such action, Patnaik filed a contempt of court application against the district administration in the HC. This time, a HC Bench comprising Chief Justice JS Javeri and Justice KR Mohapatra directed for personal appearance of the Collector on August 13. Pradhan appeared before the court and kept his stand, which could not satisfy the court. Then, the HC directed the Government to suspend the Collector and conduct further investigations in the matter. The next date of hearing was fixed for August 27.
When contacted, Collector Pradhan refused to give any reaction and said that he has been directed to report in the GA Department in Bhubaneswar.
After suspending Pradhan, the Government gave ADM Praeep Kumar Sahu additional charge of Collector.