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Cuttack, 2nd September 2016: Justice Indrajit Mahanty became a judge of Orissa High Court in 2006, and he became a hotelier in 2009. Activist Jayanta Das broke the story on 8th August with documentary evidence given by judiciary whistleblowers. Kamyab TV, an Oriya TV channel, held a panel debate on this issue. In our press release issued three days ago, we asked whether it was ethical for any high court judge to be a businessman.

Justice I. Mahanty maintained a stony silence but on his behalf, the management of his hotel, The Triple C, issued a denial in The Indian Expresson the same day as our press release. The Triple C Hotel's press statement contradicts the signed affidavit of Justice I. Mahanty himself, and it actually makes this high court judge's actions look totally mysterious!

MYSTERY #1. The Indian Express story says, "A spokesperson of Latest Generation Entertainment Pvt Limited (LGPL), which entered into a 15-year pact with Justice Indrajit Mohanty, clarified that lease/rent agreement for “Triple C” was signed in August, 2007. Chartered Accountant of LGPL R Sharma said possession of the property was handed over to the company in 2009 and it has been running the hotel ever since. LGPL has been paying lease rental for the premises after accounting for the income tax." And later on, it says, "Besides, the accusations that working capital had been availed for running hotel were found to be untrue as neither LGPL nor Justice Mohanty had taken any. Instead, a term loan was secured in 2007 for construction of the building. Application for an additional term loan was made in 2009 which was approved later in the year by State Bank of India."

But this begs the question: Why is Justice Indrajit Mahanty servicing a working capital loan of Rs 2.5 cr from State Bank of India, which he took in his own name in February 2009? Read SBI's loan sanction letter issued on 16th Feb 2009 in the name of Justice Indrajit Mahanty himself (and not in the name of Latest Generation Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.) See below image:

Why is Justice Indrajit Mahanty servicing a working capital loan of Rs 2.5 cr from State Bank of India, which he took in his own name in February 2009? Read SBI's loan sanction letter issued on 16th Feb 2009 in the name of Justice Indrajit Mahanty himself (and not in the name of Latest Generation Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.)

Also, why is Justice I. Mahanty (and not the hotel management company) withdrawing and repaying lakhs of rupees every month? Read the bank statements showing drawals and repayments as recent as May 2015. See below image:

If not from The Triple C Hotel, from what source of income does Justice Indrajit Mahanty pay amounts like Rs 2 lakh every month? And if not for working capital of the hotel, for what purpose does Justice I. Mahanty withdraw lakhs of rupees every month? Will his lordship kindly clarify this?

If not from The Triple C Hotel, from what source of income does Justice Indrajit Mahanty pay amounts like Rs 2 lakh every month? And if not for working capital of the hotel, for what purpose does Justice I. Mahanty withdraw lakhs of rupees every month? Will his lordship kindly clarify this?

MYSTERY #2: The Indian Express story says: "Contrary to the allegations that Justice Mohanty got record of rights of the land in 2006, available documents revealed that the land on which the hotel is located was purchased on October 16, 1981 by Barrister Ranjit Mohanty for his son, Justice Mohanty."

In that case, did Justice Indrajit Mahanty tell a lie in his affidavit? Why did he state, "That I have obtained a plot of land by way of Court Decree from the Court of the Subordinate Judge, first Court, Cuttack, in Title Suit no. 297 of 1981" Why didn't he mention anything about purchase of land by his father Barrister Ranjit Mahanty? See below image:

Did Justice Indrajit Mahanty tell a lie in his affidavit? Why did he state, "That I have obtained a plot of land by way of Court Decree from the Court of the Subordinate Judge, first Court, Cuttack, in Title Suit no. 297 of 1981" Why didn't he mention anything about purchase of land by his father Barrister Ranjit Mahanty?

The Indian Express story concludes by saying: "Sharma said the attacks on the hotel are not only baseless but also motivated and have adversely affected its functioning."

Mr Sharma, do you really imagine that any of this is about the hotel? Oh come on, get real! It's not about The Triple C Hotel, and no, it's not about one over-privileged person named Indrajit Mahanty either. This is about the judiciary and its functioning, and the fundamental right of 1.3 billion citizens of India to be served by judges who are genuinely impartial and unbiased.

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Posted By Sulaiman Bhimani

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Short, disappointed post just tickled at the irony. In my post "Who profits from hanging Yakub Memon?" I had pointed out that hanging him basically means yet another dead witness in 's grand tradition of dead witnesses against powerful criminals.

Ironically, as the news of the dismissing his curative petition on the day before his hanging is scheduled hit Twitter, two of the top trends were # and #याकूब_को_फांसी_दो.

The savetiger trend is because it is International tiger day today. It is only a supreme and ironic coincidence that the chief accused in the 1993 blasts against whom provided proof that broke the case wide open is nicknamed.... Tiger Memon.

Earlier Yakub had been found medically fit to be killed. A perplexing requirement for a hanging. How does it matter if someone is fit or unfit while being killed?

Since then, the Governor too has refused Yakub's plea.

7 April 2015, India: OK, here’s a question: Can you and I make a profit of about Rs 90 lakh by selling a plot of government land before it is transferred to us? Can we sell it to a known crook and swindler at the height of his career? Answer: If we are common people, then no. But if we are high court judges, then yes, we can not only do it, but we can also be elevated to the position of a Chief Justice! Come, let us learn from Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra, Chief Justice Of Manipur, how it is done.

Like all our High Court and Supreme Court judges, Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra (http://hcmimphal.nic.in/judges.html) is immune to the laws of the land. When he was a High Court judge in Odisha, Mr. Mohapatra accepted a bribe of about Rs 90 lakh through a shady land deal with a chit-fund fraudster named Pradeep Sethy (http://tinyurl.com/pradeep-sethy), whose Artha Tatwa Chit Fund scam in Odisha was estimated by Supreme Court to be Rs 4,600 crore – roughly twice the size of the infamous Saradha scam in West Bengal. (Others put it at Rs 20,000 crore.) In this unusual sale of land, the Cuttack Development Authority actively cooperated with Justice Mohapatra. In connection with this same land transaction, Advocate General Ashok Mohanty was arrested last year (http://tinyurl.com/AG-ashok-Mohanty), but Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra -- then the Acting Chief Justice of Manipur High Court -- went on to be elevated to Chief Justice on 10th July 2014, well after the scandal became well-known in the public domain and the media! Isey kehte hain Independence Of Judiciary!

One however wonders about the dynamics of how this particular elevation happened. Did somebody bribe the members of the Supreme Court collegium on behalf of the hon’ble Mr Mohapatra? Or did one of the collegium judges highly recommend Mr Mohapatra as, relatively speaking, the cleanest judge available for the position of CJ of Manipur? Did this brother judge convincingly argue that a little bit of shady dealings, stamp duty evasion and money-laundering should be considered acceptable among the brotherhood of judges? Or was it the collegium’s considered decision that, since Justice Mohapatra was only exploiting well-known legal loopholes in Odisha's Stamp Act and other laws, it was legally acceptable?

(For the record, the government of Odisha was in the habit of making such discretionary land allocations to high court judges and others. This facility was widely known and exploited for years by VVIPs. (Read http://tinyurl.com/Odisha-land-allotments. After this scandal, in December 2014, the government seems to have decided to mend its ways (http://tinyurl.com/Odisha-cancels-allotments). RTI Activist Jayanta Kumar Das, in his Letter Petition (http://tinyurl.com/Jayanta-Das-Letter2CJI) to Chief Justice of India on 18th March 2015, presented a blow-by-blow account of Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra's wrongdoings, with supporting evidence, and is awaiting some action. Tall hopes? Maybe. Wait and watch.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  1. On 11.10.2006, in his capacity of a judge of Odisha High Court, Laxmikanta Mohapatra applied for a government plot in Markata Nagar to Cuttack Development Authority (CDA). Within seven months, CDA allotted a 4000 square foot plot in Sector-11 in Bidanasi project area, Cuttack) and instructed him to pay Rs 9.8 lakhs. Having an ancestral property in Cuttack district (Stoney Road, Post- Candinichowk, P.S- Lal Bag, Dist – Cuttack), Mr Mohapatra was actually not eligible to get a government plot from CDA. So, his letter was evasively worded, stating that neither he nor his family owned land at Markata Nagar. After taking possession in July 2007, lthough the allotted plot was not yet transferred in his name, Laxmikanta Mohapatra proceeded to build a double storied building on the allotted plot. Read documents: http://tinyurl.com/Judge-gets-land
  2. within four years of the allotment of government land to him, Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra transferred the possession of this plot for a consideration of Rs one crore. The land was "sold" by means of a simple affidavit on ten-rupees stamp paper to Pradeep Kumar Sethy, the chit-fund baron. The mode of payment was not mentioned (Cheque? Cash? Any other means? Who knows?) The affidavit said, “I have taken over the possession of the plot on 23.7.2007 and lease deed has not been executed in my fabour (sic!) till date. The plot is double storied building is existing on the plot”. As Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra was not the owner of this plot, he had no right to execute and register a sale deed or to transfers this plot in favour of any party. Indeed, no law in India or in Odisha empowers anybody to transfer or sell a property to any party by means of a mere affidavit… but that is precisely what this learned judge did! Read http://tinyurl.com/Sethy-buys-from-Judge

By means of this unlawful transaction, Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra enabled chit fund operator Pradeep Kumar Sethy to do him an undue favour of about Rs 90 lakh. Simultaneously, the honourable judge broke the law to avoid paying at least Rs 5 lakhs stamp duty and registration. And last but not least, this person who is now Chief Justice of Manipur committed offences of money-laundering by accepting and creating black money from the chit fund operator – possibly in order to provide him some undue favours.

Cuttack Development Authority aided and abetted this unlawful transaction. It transferred this plot in the name of Sri Pradeep Kumar Sethy vide its Letter No.8098/CDA/Dated 23.4.2011 based on Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra’s affidavit and a request letter written by Pradeep Sethy.

  1. Meanwhile, lakhs of people in Odisha started raising their voice against Artha Tatwa Chit Fund Company, its Chief Managing Director Pradeep Sethy and other directors for the nonpayment of their matured fixed deposits in different branch offices of the company. Anticipating his arrest, Pradeep Sethy approached the Advocate General of Orissa High Court Sri Ashok Mohanty for an undue favour, and a deal was struck.

Barely one and a half years after the land was transferred in his name, Pradeep Sethy made another affidavit dated 03.10.2012 transferring the land plot for a consideration of Rs 1,00,01,000/- (Rupees One Crore and One Thousand) only. Again, the mode of payment was not mentioned (Cheque? Cash?). This affidavit suggests, as CBI mentions in its chargesheet, that Advocate General Ashok entered into this transaction as a consideration for giving undue favours in Orissa high Court. Read http://tinyurl.com/Sethy-sells-to-AG

  1. A case was registered against Pradeep Sethyand his staff by Balasore Town Police for cheating innocent investors (Balasore Town P.S. Case No. 352 of 2012 dated 06.10.2012, U/S 420/506/34 I.P.C etc). Pradeep Sethy applied for anticipatory bail before Odisha High Court, on 09.10.2012 (Annexure- 21). Thanks to Advocate General Ashok Mohanty, this anticipatory bail was allowed. Pradeep Sethy and all his associates were released on anticipatory bail without production of the case diary on 18.10.2012.
  2. Soon afterwards, Cuttack Development Authority took steps to ensure that the bribe paid to Ashok Mohanty reached him, i.e. the transfer of the land to Ashok Mohanty, who was possibly anxious that the land plot may be seized by the authorities, along with other assets belonging to Sethy. So, by a form-letter dated 8th February 2013, it summoned Sethy to appear in person on the same day between 2 and 4 pm with necessary documents for signature verification and verification of his identity. It is not know by what mode this letter was delivered, and so one may presume that an urgent hand-delivery was made, possibly by the Advocate General himself! Read http://tinyurl.com/CDA-writes-to-Sethy
  3. In its preliminary charge sheet in the Artha Tatwa Chit Fund Scam Case, CBI states that the consideration of Rs one crore to Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra came out of misappropriated funds from the Artha Tatwa company accounts. It says, "As per records, accused P.K. Sethy had purchased said building from Justice L.K. Mohapatra for consideration of Rs. 1,00,00,000/- during April, 2011 out of the money flown from the accounts of AT Group and later, transferred the said plot to Asok Mohanty." You may read the relevant paragraphs of the CBI chargesheet here: http://tinyurl.com/CBI-chargesheet-Artha-Tatwa
  4. The CBI chargesheet says: "Investigation disclosed that accused Asok Mohanty was the Advocate General of Odisha during the period from June, 2009 to September, 2014. He had purchased a building located at plot No. 11-3B/1332, Category-B, measuring 4000 sqft in sector -11, Bidanashi, Cuttack from the accused Pradeep Kumar Sethy. As per records, accused P.K. Sethy had purchased said building from Justice L.K. Mohapatra for consideration of Rs. 1,00,00,000/- during April, 2011 out of the money flown from the accounts of AT Group and later, transferred the said plot to Asok Mohanty. Though the sale transaction was shown to be of Rs 1,01,00,000/- but in fact an amount of Rs. 70,00,000/- only has been paid by accused Asok Mohanty to accused P.K. Sethy. During the course of investigation two money receipts were seized from the official premises of accused Asok Mohanty indicating the payment of Rs. 1,01,00,000/- towards consideration. The said money receipts bear forged signatures of accused Pradeep Kumar Sethy. During the relevant period of time i.e. during October, 2012, when the above transaction took place, agitations were going on in Odisha against the accused Pradeep Kumar Sethy and against AT Group by the depositors which is evident by registration of the 1st FIR against the AT Group on 06.10.2013 following which the accused P.K.Sethy had moved an anticipatory bail petitions before the Hon'ble high Court on 09.10.2012 and during the relevant time the present accused AG entered into a criminal conspiracy with the said Pradeep Kumar Sethy and in furtherance thereof extended his hospitality towards the accused P.K.Sethy as a result of which the anticipatory bail was granted to the accused P.K.Sethy on 18.09.2012. During the course of investigation, two separate agreements for sale of the said plots were recovered/seized from the possession of accused Asok Mohanty. In the said two agreements, the consideration agreed upon was Rs One Crore and One Lakh which is contrary to the consideration mentioned in the affidavit dt. 03.10.2012 submitted to the Cuttack Development Authority for transfer of ownership of the said property. It may be mentioned here that in the said affidavit dt. 03.10.2012, the consideration amount is mentioned as Rs. One Crore and One Thousand. Thus, it is clear that the accused Asok Mohanty misappropriated the remaining amount of Rs. 31 lakhs that he was supposed to pay to the accused Pradeep Kumar Sethy."
  5. Significantly, CBI was able to investigate the role of Advocate General Asok Mohanty... but do they have the authority or the mandate to investigate the role played by Justice LK Mohapatra? No. And therefore, one is left wondering whether Justice Mohapatra's role was as innocuous as the CBI chargesheet makes it out to be!

Final outcome:

  • Lakhs of citizens of Odisha – swindled. Money not yet recovered
  • Chit fund swindler Pradeep Sethy – arrested & chargesheeted by CBI.
  • Advocate General Asok Mohanty – ditto… and he lost his job.
  • Odisha High Court Judge Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra – got to keep Rs 90 lakhs that came from the savings of chit fund investors… and he was elevated to the position of Chief Justice of Manipur after the scandal.

Will somebody please rap the Supreme Court collegium on the knuckles for this decision, and impeach this honourable Chief Justice of Manipur? If this is not done, one worries that before his scheduled retirement on 10th June 2016 upon attaining the age of 62, the SC collegium (or Judicial Appointments Commission) may elevate him to the exalted status of a Supreme Court Judge, or even, who knows? Chief Justice of India? You can never tell.

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India’s Sovereignty, Security and Freedom at risk-

Is the IB being used by foreign corporations to take over India’s vital seed sector?

The IB report has a special section on GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms). It clearly supports the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture.

The IB report makes specific mention of the Supreme Court cases which have beenfiled. It curiously also accuses civil society organisations and individuals of influencing 3 Committees that were officially mandated to assess GMOs. The IB report objects to these formal government reports, the Moratorium Orders of Shri Jairam Ramesh, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) because they find that on current evidence, GM crops have little to contribute to Indian agriculture, safe food and food security. These findings did not accord with the view of the PMO, when headed by the erstwhile Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. This report was initiated under the UPA Government.

IB objects to protection of Indian seed and food sovereignty?

In 1998, when Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally, without the statutory approvals from the GEAC, we had to file a case in the SC to defend the laws of the land, our Constitution, our Seed Sovereignty and Food Sovereignty. When open field trials were being conducted without appropriate and independent Biosafety assessments, and expertise inthese matters, the current cases in the Supreme Court were initiated in 2003 and 2005 to uphold the law: protect the environment and safety of our seeds and food from irreversible genetic contamination, protect smallholder farming in India, and the health safety of 1 billion citizens. The country faces a major threat from the multinational Seed/chemical industry, seeking control over our seeds, our agriculture and our food. This is the corporate focus. This is their AGENDA. Thousands of organizations and many multiples of thousands of individuals are committed to resisting this unacceptable corporate goal for India.

IB favors the foreign hand in the ‘making of India’s Bt brinjal’:

The IB report quotes a Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University who promotes GMOs and the monopoly of Monsanto. It is ironic that the IB report relies on the evidence of Dr Herring with his antecedents in Cornell University, a hub of blind GMO promotion. It is the direct foreign hand along with USAID and Monsanto funding, behind the ‘making of India’s Bt brinjal’. Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Has the IB report been written then with foreign influence, for the benefit and profits of foreign corporations? Thestrategy of the global GMO seed industry with their patents & IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) is to bend regulation and influence governments and regulators to approve GMOs, by-passing scientific, transparent and independent safety testing.

Outrageous insult to our Parliamentarians and Contempt of Court by the IB:

The PSC recommended a high-level enquiry into how Bt brinjal was approved by the Regulators for commercial release. The self-assessed safety-dossier by Mahyco-Monsanto was a cover-up as evidenced in independent assessments of the raw data by several leading international scientists.  It staggers belief that the IB find it possible to hand out an outrageous insult to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, by suggesting  that they have in effect been led ‘by the nose’ by activists and civil society groups and have no competence to address their official mandate on the subject. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the IB report has been influenced by those who have most to gain by undermining our seed and food sovereignty ie. the foreign corporations.

The IB report has also attacked the government decision made under our Biosafety laws to impose a moratorium on Bt Brinjal. It is thus attacking our Biosafety. This will only suit foreign interests.

The IB is guilty of contempt of court since it attacks the Technical Expert Committee set up by the Supreme Court to look into the issues of GMOs and Biosafety. The case is still being heard.

The IB fails to refer to the important other official report, the ‘Sopory Committee Report’. This report of 2012 commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture itself is a stinging commentary on what is wrong with GMO regulation in India. Ourregulatory institutions and the MoA have been indicted in this report for lies, fraud and lacking GMO expertise. And the truth with regard to massive contamination was revealed in this report.

NGOs saving Indian seed and food sovereignty:

The biggest foreign hand by STEALTH and official COVER-UP will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector that helped create an informed debate on GMOs and has postponed, even stopped government action from introducing them for over 15 years.  In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture, of which there is incontrovertible proof, to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to Multi-NationalCorporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands and this time it will be no bogey foreign hand. This will be for real.  China is on record as saying that she will not allow her armed forces to eat any GM food. This not-to-be-imagined future will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover. The fallout of this mere 20 year-old laboratory technology is, that it is irreversible. This is what must give us sober ‘food for thought’ uncontaminated by GMOs, something the IB seems to be supremely oblivious of. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some  serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes  to examine.

Indian Cotton in Foreign Hands, Indian farmers’ hard earned money expatriated to foreign lands:

India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario. It was introduced into India’s hybrids, not varieties so our farmers would be forced to buy seeds each year. This ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto. The damage to India’s organic cotton market and status is significant. India is the largest organic cotton producer/exporter in the world. It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers, a role that the MoA has absconded or been eliminated from. The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years,   (excludingother profit mark-ups). What would this figure be if GMOs and propriety seeds flooded our farms without Biosafety assessment and regulation? This is the arithmetic the IB should have done, instead of throwing an arbitrary figure of 2-3% loss of growth. The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy. More than 284000 Indian farmers have been pushed to suicide because of a debt trap, lack of government investment in smallholder farming and dependence on non-renewable, propriety seeds and chemicals sold by the corporations. We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.

If India's intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat.

This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country.  It does India nocredit.

Signed:

 Vandana Shiva,               Aruna Rodrigues,                Kavitha Kuruganti

Navdanya

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