Orissa HC orders issue of notice in decade-old false sedition case

Published on Jul 26, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Hearing a petition by lawyer-activist Pratima Das, who is seeking 20 lakh compensation for being falsely charged with sedition in 2008, the court expressed surprise that though the petition was filed in 2011, it was listed only twice for hearing in the last 10 years
Representational image.
Representational image.
ByDebabrata Mohanty

The Orissa high court directed the Odisha government on July 22 to provide the correct addresses of three police officers so they can be served notices regarding a case seeking compensation for false allegations of sedition. The order was uploaded on Saturday night.

Hearing a petition by lawyer-activist Pratima Das, who is seeking 20 lakh compensation for being falsely charged with sedition in 2008, a division bench of Orissa high court comprising chief justice S Muralidhar and justice BP Routray expressed surprise that although this petition was filed in 2011, it was listed only twice for hearing in the last 10 years--on February 23 and September 6, 2012. Since police officers were named in the case, the high court ordered that the state provide the correct addresses of the officers within four weeks.

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Das, 41, a resident of Choudwar, was arrested in August 2008 for her alleged links with Maoists in Odisha and was sent to Alipingala jail of Jagatsinghpur district. While she was in Alipingala jail, police implicated her in another criminal case registered at the Jamankira police station in Sambalpur district and charged her with sedition among other cases. She was chargesheeted in two cases under various grievous charges, including murder, dacoity and sedition. She remained in jail till November 17, 2010, till the courts acquitted her of all charges, including sedition.

After her acquittal, she moved the Orissa high court in November 2011 seeking 20 lakh compensation and punishment for three police officers and four junior officials for fabricating a case against her, which, she said, caused her mental trauma and public humiliation. The police officers are RK Sharma (additional DG law and order), DS Kuttey (OSD to chief minister) and Sanjay Kumar(IG, Sashastra Seema Bal) while the junior officials are Bichitrananda Samal, Pradeep Kumar Panda, Manas Ranjan Garnaik and Niranjan Mishra.

“In neither of the two cases could the prosecution substantiate any of the charges against me, including the allegation of seditious activity. I was branded a Maoist. The charges led to massive personal and professional humiliation for me for two years, three months and five days. My family could never return to normal. Newspapers had a field day branding me as Maoist,” said Das, demanding legal action against all the seven officials.

RK Sharma, one of the seven officials named in the case, said he is yet to see the order and would be able to comment only after going through it.

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