Monday, 29 August 2016

Judge-cum-Hotelier Indrajit Mahanty of Orissa HC: Is his conduct ethical?

30th August, 2016, Cuttack: Is it OK if our sitting judges become businessmen? If our judges become hoteliers and owners of dance-bars, etc. while serving, can they maintain judge-like attitude? Can they command the respect and awe of Indian citizens, government and various administrative bodies? These aren't hypothetical questions; Justice Indrajit Mahanty, a senior judge of Orissa High Court since 2006, became a hotelier in 2009, the proud owner of the The Triple-C Hotel in Cuttack, which boasts a dance-bar. In his own name and from his own bank accounts, Justice I. Mahanty has taken a Rs. 2.5 crore business loan from State Bank of India for this hotel. Although a private limited company named Latest Generation Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. was formed for managing the hotel, the working capital for the hotel was borrowed by (and is being repaid by) Justice Indrajit Mahanty in his personal capacity. For building the ground-plus-four storey building, Justice I. Mahanty in his own name, sought government permissions and concessions, and he appears to have built in excess of the permissions granted. Justice I. Mahanty self-reported that he acquired the land plot for the Triple-C Hotel in 2009 through a suit in a subordinate court. One wonders whether the subordinate judge and the government officials of Cuttack Development Authority felt pressured by His Lordship. 

Documents uncovered by activist Jayanta Das give reasons for Orissa's people to ask: Does Justice Indrajit Mahanty think like a judge or does he think like a businessman? When His Lordship delivers an interim order or a final judgment, is it a judge-like decision or a business decision? When ministers, government officials and bankers appear before Justice I. Mahanty, do they get the feeling that he owes them many favours? When moneyed businessmen appear before Justice I. Mahanty, do they get the feeling that his orders and judgments can be influenced by splashing money at the Triple-C? Do touts feel free to walk in and out of The Triple-C's hotel rooms, brokering deals and acting as delivery-boys for suitcases of cash? Is The Triple-C Hotel a place for receiving bribes and money-laundering the amounts received? 
 
These are not just worries for the citizens of Orissa, these are questions that should agitate citizens of every Indian state, because it is quite conceivable that over the next decade, Justice I. Mahanty may be elevated to the Supreme Court judge, or even Chief Justice Of India; if this happens, he may well be hearing your Special Leave Petition or my appeal! Although a relatively young high court judge -- only 55 years old -- Justice I. Mahanty is already number two in seniority at Orissa High Court. Being the son of well-known Barrister Ranjit Mohanty (in whose name there's a large group of institutes spread of eight acres of land in Bhubaneshwar called BRM Institutes), he is influential and well-connected in the legal fraternity. In the next five years, his career track may take him to becoming Chief Justice of Orissa HC, a Supreme Court judge and Chief Justice Of India. If that happens, the people of all Indian states, and not just Orissa, may wonder what role the cash-flows of Triple-C Hotel played in his elevation. One may be forgiven for asking whether his judicial acts are causing the Triple-C Hotel, its directors, and the companies headquartered in that hotel, to prosper?


Does His Lordship recuse himself from hearing cases where conflict of interest with his hotel business arise? It seems not. In 2015, Justice Indrajit Mahanty decided a case about whether dance bars should be permitted in Orissa, and – surprise surprise! The bench headed by him decided that dance bars should be allowed! Triple-C Hotel itself has a dance bar nowadays, earning lakhs of rupees every week, thanks to this judgment. Conflict of interest? Definitely.

Justice I. Mahanty's current bench assignment concerning "Bank Securitization" also is rich with possibilities of conflict of interest, as he is a biggish borrower who owes banks crores of rupees. With so much interdependence with government agencies, banks, etc., where is the question of independence of judiciary?

Look at the documentary evidence unearthed by activist Jayanta Das, with the help of judiciary whistleblowers:
  1. Affidavit filed in April 2007 by Justice Indrajit Mahanty for building permission for a ground-plus-two commercial-cum-residential building: http://tinyurl.com/Justice-I-Mahanty-Affidavit
  2. Cuttack Development Authority permission for ground-plus-two residential-cum-commercial building in July 2007: http://tinyurl.com/Bldg-permission-2-I-Mahanty
     
  3. CDA concessions granted to Justice Indrajit Mahanty -- permission for stilt-plus-four commercial building without side setbacks of 10 metres, resulting in hotel building almost touching the balcony of the building in the neighbouring plot: http://tinyurl.com/bldg-permission-stilt-plus-4
     
  4. Photos of ground-plus-four (not stilt-plus-four) hotel built by Justice Indrajit Mahanty, without leaving any space between hotel and another building in adjoining plot: http://tinyurl.com/The-Triple-C-Hotel-photos
     
  5. Working-capital loans (SME category) of Rs 2.5 cr sanctioned by SBI in February 2009 in the name of Justice Indrajit Mahanty, owner of the "Hotel Complex, Address: Plot no. 280/1038 and 280/1558, Buxibazar, opposite to Pantha Nivas", under the SME segment: http://tinyurl.com/SBI-Loans-2-Justice-I-Mahanty
     
  6. Debit-credit of lakhs of rupees per month of two working-capital loan accounts of Justice Indrajit Mahanty during the period March 2013 to May 2015: http://tinyurl.com/Justice-I-Mahanty-loans
     
  7. Judgment of Justice Indrajit Mahanty in December 2015, allowing bar dance performances in hotels: http://tinyurl.com/Orissa-Dance-Bars-Verdict
     
  8. Report of the bar dancer's judgment in Orissa Post: http://www.orissapost.com/bar-dancers-get-hc-nod/
     
  9. Recent mobile-video of dance bar performance at 5th floor of The Triple-C Hotel, showing that Justice Indrajit Mahanty's hotel directly benefitted from his judgment: http://tinyurl.com/The-Triple-C-Hotel-Bar-Dancers

Based on the above-mentioned documents (which can all be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/Jayanta-Das-Judiciary), is there any doubt that the functioning of Justice Indrajit Mahanty as a judge is being compromised by the demands of becoming and being a hotelier?

QUESTIONS OF CONSTITUTIONALITY:

A) Did the Indian Constitution ever envisage that a judge could hold an "office of profit", much less become a private businessman? If Justice Indrajit Mahanty can be a hotelier, which constitutional provision prevents the entire puisne of High Court and Supreme Court judges from becoming builders, wholesalers, shopowners, film producers etc.?

B) Is Justice Indrajit Mahanty showing all the cash receipts of his hotel in his own Income-Tax returns? His hotel would be having an annual turnover of crores of rupees, and much of it would be in cash. Does any Income Tax official have the jurisdiction to summon this judge to his office with his books of account and seek clarifications?

C) There's a saying that "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If Justice Indrajit Mahanty commits criminal or civil offences in his capacity as hotelier or bank-borrower, how can anybody bring him to justice? Does any judicial forum have the jurisdiction over him? Short of impeachment, it appears that there are no remedies for such a situation! The Chief Justice Of India, the government and the Indian Parliament needs to consider whether such a situation may be allowed to continue.

INVITATION TO MAINSTREAM NATIONAL MEDIA
This story was recently aired by Kamyab TV, an Oriya channel, in the form of a panel discussion wherein activist Jayanta Das, Adv Gyana Ranjan Mahanty and Professor Patnaik discussed the abovementioned ethical questions: https://youtu.be/KAmPWlxvIdA
 (In case you don't understand Oriya, here is a brief translation of the discussion.) 
 
But this is not a local story, it is a national story, and this discussion need to happen on national media, on social media, and in the public.

[Note: Do you think this post is defamatory or contemptuous? Are we scandalizing the court and reducing people's confidence in the judiciary? I am keenly aware of possible legal consequences of writing this post, but many activist friends like Jayanta Das and myself consider it our sacred duty to do so because – especially in the context of the ongoing Judicial Accountability and the Judicial Appointments controversies – such questions deserve to be debated in the public domain. Also, there are whistleblowers within the judiciary who deserve to be heard by the entire nation, and on their behalf, activists like Jayanta Das and I are quite willing to go out on a limb.]

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

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No Rebuttal from Shri Indrajit Mahanty

By email and also by Speedpost, we requested Justice Indrajit Mahanty's vide these three covering letters (accompanying the above draft press release) sent to his "registered office", official residence and also The Triple C Hotel. Speedpost online tracking shows that our letters reached him on the evening of 26th August 2016, giving enough time to respond by post, email or phone.

Till date, there has been no response.

1 comment:

  1. DETAILS OF ACTION TAKEN BY ME AFTER GETTING DOCUMENTS REGARDING THE HOTEL INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS LOAN OF A SITTING JUDGE OF ORISHA HIGH COURT NAMED JUSTICE SRI INDRAJIT MAHANTY WHICH VIOLATES THE “RESTATEMENT OF VALUES OF JUDICIAL LIFE”

    Dear All

    Please go through the follow up action on the issue of Sitting Judge of Orissa High Court Justice Sri Indrajit Mahanty:-

    01. The Grievance which was registered in DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL & TRAINING (DOPAT/E/2016/17307 dated 12.07.2016) against Justice Indrajit Mahanty (for his illegal Hotel Industry and Term Loan from State Bank of India) was forwarded to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for necessary action by DoPT and further on 12.08.2016 CBI has referred the aforementioned Grievance to the SECRETARY GENERAL OF HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA for taking further necessary action in the matter.

    02. Speed Post Letter Petition dated 25.08.2016 was sent to SECRETARY GENERAL OF HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA with all documents and the same was delivered in Supreme Court on 28.08.2016.

    03. Grievance registered in DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DEPOJ/E/2016/02430 dated 12.07.2016) and the same was forwarded to the HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF ORISSA HIGH COURT for necessary action on 28.07.2016.

    04. Speed Post Letter Petition dated 20.8.2016 was sent to HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF ORISSA with all documents and the same was delivered in High Court on 22.8.2016.

    05. Email Complaint dated 14.7.2016 was sent to CHIEF VIGILANCE OFFICER OF STATE BANK OF INDIA regarding the sanction of Business Loan (Term Loan Rs 2,50,00,000/-) with all documents.

    06. Chief Vigilance Officer of State Bank of India directed SBI CUTTACK to investigate the matter and SBI Cuttack replied by Speed Post to me in its Letter dated 06.08.2016 (RASMEC/CUTTACK/16-17/355) that they have received my Email Complaint from CVO through their Controlling Office and would take necessary action.

    07. I have send REMINDER TO CHIEF VIGILANCE OFFICER OF STATE BANK OF INDIA dated 02.09.2016 & 06.09.2016 for intentionally delaying the investigation.

    08. One more Registered Post Letter Petition dated 02.9.2016 was sent to HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF ORISSA based on the letter and documents of YOUNG ADVOCATES ASSOCIATION OF ORISSA HIGH COURT and the same was delivered in High Court on 05.9.2016.

    09. REGISTERED POST LETTER PETITION DATED 05.9.2016 TO THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA WITH ALL DOCUMENTS PRAYING FOR ACTION AGAINST JUSTICE INDRAJIT MAHANTY AS PER “IN-HOUSE MECHANISM” AND THE SAME DELIVERED IN APEX COURT ON 10.09.2016.

    10. Grievance were also registered with (A) Ministry of Finance (DORVU/E/2016/01161) dated 12.7.2016; (B) Central Vigilance Commission (Complaint No. 41114/2016/Vigilance 9) dated 03.08.2016; (C) Prime Minister Office (PMOPG/E/2016/0280674) dated 09.08.2016; (D) President Secretariat (PRSEC/E/2016/10919) dated 14.08.2016.

    NB: If any citizen wants the documents related to this fraud and documents related to the aforementioned action taken by me then they can SMS their Email ID to my Mobile No. 9861770749 so that I can send the scan copy of all documents to them by Email.

    Regards
    Jayanta Kumar Das, RTI Activist, 9861770749(M).

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