Judge probing Kandhamal riots and Former Judge Sarat Chandra Mohapatra Passes Away

Sarat chandra mohapatraRetired Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra, who was the one-man judicial commission inquiring into the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and the subsequent ethno-communal riots in Kandhamal in 2008, passed away on Saturday. He was 79. His wife Indira had predeceased him in 2002. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Though probe into Saraswati’s murder and the violent event in its aftermath would suffer a jolt because of Mohapatra’s demise, official sources said the state government, in consonance with provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act, could appoint a new judge to carry forward the commission’s work to its logical conclusion.

Sources said Mohapatra commission, which the government appointed on September 3, 2008, was originally supposed to submit its report within six months, but it was extended five times as the probe required more time. On July 1, 2009, the commission had submitted a 28-page ‘interim report’ to the state government, recommending certain measures that could be adopted to prevent recurrence of violent in Kandhamal.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnayak praying infront of Dead body of Sarat Chandra MohapatraBorn on March 24, 1933, at Icchabatipur Sasan in Dhenkanal district to Gobinda Chandra Mohapatra and Chitramali, Mohapatra was educated at B B High School, Dhenkanal; MPC College, Baripada; G M College, Sambalpur and M S Law College, Cuttack. He started legal practice in 1956 and went on to become a judge of Orissa High Court in 1984 and the Allahabad High Court in 1994. He also served as president, State Consumer Redressal Forum from 1989-1993, chairman, Orissa Administrative Tribunal, in 1995 and state Lokpal from 2003 to 2008. He also edited a journal, The Lawyer, for sometime.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, law minister B K Arukh, state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik, state BJP chief Jual Oram and a host of distinguished personalities condoled Mohapatra’s death. Naveen described him as a ‘great pillar of the judicial system in our state’.

In the evening, Mohapatra was cremated at Swargadwar in Puri.

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