Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik on Wednesday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanding a thorough probe into the chit fund scam by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under judicial supervision to prosecute the guilty.

Reacting to the State government’s move to appoint a one-man judicial commission headed by a retired High Court Judge to enquire into the scam, the former Minister said “a judicial enquiry is not a criminal investigation. A judge has no powers to collect evidence for prosecution of the guilty in a court of law”.

“Frankly speaking you have been trying to play hide-and-seek with the truth. There is now an impression that you have announced a set of steps on July 9 only to influence the course of the ongoing PILs in the Supreme Court and the Orissa High Court,” Mr. Patnaik said in his letter to the Chief Minister.

“Why were these steps not taken earlier and why now coinciding with the court hearings,” the Congress leader questioned.

“What has astonished me most is the unwillingness of the Chief Minister to admit to the scale of the fraud perpetrated by a group of fraudsters in direct connivance of powerful people under governmental oversight,” Mr. Patnaik said, while alleging that the police had knowingly refrained from proceeding against those in power.

“These fraudsters were moving around in the power corridors as respectable entrepreneurs with the high and the mighty and were known to many in your party. But, when it came to accepting criminal or moral liability, you have managed to keep the identities of all these leaders who had clear and identifiable nexus and provided patronage under wrap. Was patronage provided without a quid pro quo? Why should you protect these individuals? Are you afraid that the scam may see your media profile crumble like a house of card,” Mr. Patnaik queried.

“It is my request and suggestion that you agree to the demand of an SIT enquiry under judicial supervision and sack your ministers and party leaders, who have received favours from these fraudsters. This is a matter of public morality and persons responsible directly or indirectly for such squandering of money belonging to small depositors must be named and shamed to cleanse public life and restore faith of the people in the efficacy of rule of law,” Mr. Patnaik said in his letter to the Chief Minister.

It is my request and suggestion that you agree to the demand of a SIT enquiry under judicial supervision and sack your Ministers and party leaders who have received favours

Niranjan Patnaik

Senior Congress leader