Odisha Law and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Mohanty resigned today after his daughter-in-law slapped a dowry torture case against him and his family which created pandemonium in the assembly over the issue.
Mohanty's daughter-in-law Barsha Sony filed an FIR against him, her mother-in-law
Pritilata, her husband Rajasree and other members of the family at Balasore town police station accusing them of demanding Rs 25 lakh and other valuables.
A case has been registered against Mohanty and others under sections 498(A) (cruelty), 506 (criminal intimidation), 448 (house
tresspass) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of
IPC, Balasore superintendent of police Amrita Das said.
"I have resigned on moral grounds," the minister, who had rushed to the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and tendered his resignation this morning, told waiting newsmen and denied the charges levelled by his daughter-in-law.
"Allegation against me and my family is totally false and baseless. The people of Balasore know the truth. Let the law take its own course," said
Mohanty, five-time MLA from Basta constituency in Balasore district.
Later, the chief minister in a statement in the assembly said Mohanty had resigned on moral ground and he had handed over the case to the Human Rights Protection Cell
(HRPC) of the police.
Mohanty did not attend the assembly.
The house plunged into turmoil as Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat did not allow opposition Congress to raise the issue in the house after the chief minister's statement, which did not pacify them.
They demanded Mohanty's arrest and accused the state government of trying to shield him by handing the case to
As the opposition MLAs continued to shout
anti-government slogans and demonstrated in the well of the house, it could function for only 51 minutes.
The speaker, however, ensured passage of the demand for panchayati raj department within minutes after repeated adjournments.
"The state government transfered the case to HRPC in order to save Mohanty and his family," Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan told reporters outside the assembly.
Meanwhile, a five-member team of HRPC rushed to Balasore to begin investigation into the case.
"We will start investigation from the statement of the alleged dowry torture victim," HRPC chief B K Sharma said.
The chief minister distributed the portfolios held by Mohanty to three ministers.
While Agriculture Minister Debi Prasad has been given additional charge of housing and urban development department, Planning and Coordination, Minister Maheswar Mohanty will look after law department. Food and Supplies Minister P K Deb has been given additional charge of IT department, official sources said.
Mohanty's son Rajasree, later in the day, moved Orissa High Court seeking an anticipatory bail.
Barsha Sony and Rajasree had married in June 24, 2012 and according to the FIR her parents had gifted Rs 10 lakh and other household articles during the marriage.
Barsha alleged that she was later subjected to physical and mental torture for more dowry by her mother-in-law and others. "They further demanded a Scorpio vehicle and Rs 25 lakh cash," she said in her FIR.
Barsha, who is now staying at her parents' place, said she had brought the matter to the notice of her husband and the father-in-law, but both of them suggested that she bring more dowry as demanded by the mother-in-law.
Barsha also claimed that an attempt was made to kidnap and kill her on March 13, but she survived as other members of her family reached the place when some unknown people were about to abduct her.
Mohanty, MLA for fifth consecutive term, has been a minister since 2005 and held important portfolios including parliamentary affairs, steel and mines, panchayati raj, industries and IT.
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