CUTTACK: A criminal lawyer of repute, BJD leader and former Lok Sabha member Brahmananda Panda passed away at SCB medical College and Hospital here of cardiac arrest on Saturday evening. He was 61 and is survived by wife Namita Panda, formerly on State Women Commission, and two sons.

According to family sources, Panda complained of massive chest pain in the evening following which he was shifted to the hospital around 7 pm. Despite a team of doctors attending on him, Panda breathed his last around 7.50 pm.

As the news of the death spread, people in large numbers made a beeline at his Peethapur residence to pay their last respects to one of the popular lawyers of the State who was always accessible to common man for his endearing nature.

Family sources informed that the mortal remains of Panda would be consigned to flames on Sunday.

Born on April 3, 1949 to Krushna Chandra Panda and Bengabati Panda in Raghunathpur village of Jagatsinghpur district, Brahmananda did his LLB in Cuttack after completing school education at his native place. Soon he followed in the footsteps of his elder brother Kangali Panda and became one of the famous criminal lawyers of the State.

He shot into limelight when he took up the criminal appeal case of Dara Singh in High Court challenging the conviction judgment of a trial court of Bhubaneswar in Stains murder case. He was active in student politics and became assistant secretary and later president of Ravenshaw college students’ union during early 70’s. An active member of Utkal Sammilani and Neelachakra, Panda was also associated with several social organisations and was a good Oriya orator too.

He was roped into politics by BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik just prior to 14th Lok Sabha elections in April 2004 and was made a party candidate for Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat. He was elected from the constituency despite contesting in polls for the first time. He was member of House Committee on science and technology, environment and forest.