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Clean chit to former Orissa speaker by in sexual harassment case

August 07, 2008 17:41 IST
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Citing lack of "credible evidence", Orissa Human Rights Commission on Thursday gave a clean chit to former assembly Speaker Maheshwar Mohanty in a case relating to sexual harassment charges levelled against him by a lady marshal of the House.

"In view of lack of credible evidence and variation in statements of the victim, we are closing the case," Commission's Chairman Justice R K Patra said adding the allegations made by lady marshal Gayatri Panda could not be established.

The charges of sexual harassment levelled by Panda against Mohanty had rocked the state during the last budget session of the assembly, leading to Mohanty's resignation as Speaker in March this year.

Justice Patra, however, made it clear that that the case against Mohanty would continue in the women's police station. Mohanty and Panda were not present when the Commission pronounced its verdict.

Stating that a woman would not approach the Commission without something derogatory to her dignity, he said "in this case none of the evidence is credible and, therefore, not acceptable. Therefore, we have decided to close the case."

Reacting to the ruling, Panda's counsel U K Mishra said "this is not a defeat. We will take further steps."

The Commission also suggested to the state government to constitute an in-house mechanism in each department in state and district level offices to deal with sexual harassment cases.

"We also hold that police is free to investigate into the matter. Commission's observations will not have any bearing on further probe," Justice Patra said.

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