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SC suspends Orissa Cong MLA’s sentence in graft case


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Shillong, April 23: In a big relief to Odisha Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim, the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended his sentence in a Rs 1.50 crore loan scam case.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta was hearing the special leave petition filed by Moquim challenging the decision of the Orissa High Court which had dismissed his appeal and confirmed the conviction and the findings of the trial court.

Last week, the top court, in an interim direction, exempted the Congress legislator from surrendering till the next date of hearing.

Earlier, a bench of Justice B.R. Routray of the Orissa High Court had said that it found no reason to interfere with the sentence awarded by the special vigilance court, considering the extent of the sentence and the nature of offences as well as the role played by the appellant.

A special vigilance court in Bhubaneswar in September 2022 convicted Congress MLA Moquim, former IAS officer Vinod Kumar, Odisha Rural Housing Development Corporation’s (ORHDC) former Company Secretary, Swosti Ranjan Mohapatra, and Metro Builders Pvt Ltd Director, Peeyusdhari Mohanty, in the case, and sentenced them to three years in jail.

According to Vigilance officials, Vinod Kumar and Swosti Ranjan had sanctioned a loan of Rs 1.50 crore to Metro Builders for the Metro City-II project, for the construction of 50 flats, at Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar, in 2000.

Moquim was then the Managing Director of Metro Builders. On the direction of Vinod Kumar, the loan was sanctioned and disbursed in three instalments.

The loan agreement and other connected documents were signed by Mohanty on behalf of Metro Builders. Though Vinod Kumar was not delegated with any financial power for sanction and disbursement of loan by the board of directors of the ORHDC at that time, he, along with Mohapatra, had sanctioned and disbursed the loan amount in haste by showing undue favour to the builder, the vigilance officials said.

Further, the loan proposal was neither placed before the board of directors nor the loan committee for approval. It was also sanctioned without any spot/site verification.

During the investigation, the vigilance sleuths also found that documents like the BDA plan, project estimate and fire prevention certificate submitted by Metro Builders were forged and fabricated, but used as genuine for availing the loan.

No tripartite agreement was executed between the parties, the official said, adding that the accused persons caused a huge loss to the government and thereby, wrongful gain to the builder. (IANS)


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