Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC), on Thursday, gave a clean chit to Maheswar Mohanty, former speaker, Orissa Legislative Assembly in an alleged sexual harassment case that rocked the assembly in March. OHRC who probed into the allegations gave Mohanty a clean chit for lack of sufficient evidence.
Gayatri Panda, a woman marshal working in the OLA, had lodged a FIR in the Mahila police station in March alleging that Mohanty, the then OLA Speaker was harassing her and was persuading her through his staff to have sexual relationship with him.
The charges kicked off uproar in the entire state and Mohanty ultimately had to step down.
After hearing both Panda and Mohanty, OHRC Chairperson Justice RK Patra in his order said, "no credible evidence against Maheswar Mohanty could be produced. Hence the case is being dropped."
Justice Patra, however, kept the hopes of Panda alive by stating that the police probe can independently continue as an FIR has been lodged against Mohanty. While Speaker Mohanty welcomed the OHRC verdict, Panda was not available for comments.
After the OHRC order, Mohanty said, "Truth has finally triumphed. I was always innocent and my stand has been vindicated." This reprieve may or may not have a bearing on his reinstatement as the Speaker. "It is a decision that chief minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik has to take," said Mohanty.