Former Odisha minister Raghunath Mohanty, wife arrested in dowry torture case

Police on Saturday said that Former Odisha Law Minister Raghunath Mohanty was arrested in a dowry torture case.

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After evading police for a fortnight in a dowry torture case slapped by daughter-in-law, former Odisha Law Minister Raghunath Mohanty and his wife were arrested on Saturday from neighbouring West Bengal and remanded in judicial custody till April 2.

The former minister and his wife Pritilata were traced after tapping over 50 telephones to an apartment at Betaitola in the neighbouring state's Howrah district early this morning by the Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) of the Odisha police, Director General of Police Prakash Mishra said.

The Mohanty couple had rented two flats since March 20 in the name of different persons.

The senior BJD leader and his wife were brought to Odisha and interrogated at the Chandipur Marine Police Station before being produced in the court, Additional Director General of Police and Chief of HRPC, BK Sharma said.

They were produced amidst tight security before the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Ranjan Kumar Sutar who sent them to judicial custody till April two and also posted their bail application to that date.

The SDJM also sought production of the updated case diary, Additional Public Prosecutor Arun Behera said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is in Delhi, said the law would take its own course in the case against Mohanty, who had gone into hiding on March 15 after resigning as the Law minister.

Government Deputy Chief Whip Sanjay Dasburma said, "the police action proves that the BJD government never shields anyone. Law has taken its own course. Nobody is above the law in which people should have faith."

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das said after his arrest Mohanty should quit the post of BJD vice-president.

The arrest was made on the basis of the FIR filed by Mohanty's daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury at the Balasore Town Police station on March 14 accusing the former minister and four members of his family of physically and mentally torturing her for dowry.

Barsa alleged that the Mohanty family had demanded Rs 25 lakh and a luxury vehicle among other things as dowry.

She also accused her husband of having extra-marital relations.

A case had been registered against Mohanty, his wife Pritilata, son Raja Shree, daughter Rupashree and son-in-law Subhendu Madhual under section 498(A) (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 506 (criminal intimidation), 448 (trespass) and 34 (common intention) of IPC and section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

Raja Shree was arrested near from Cuttack on March 17 and sent to jail.

As the issue triggered a major controversy and rocked the assembly, ruling BJD leaders, who initially described the case as a family affair, appealed to Mohanty to surrender.

But unable to persuade Mohanty to surrender, the BJD yesterday issued a veiled threat asking him to respect the law or face the consequences.

Mohanty through his lawyer had moved the Orissa High Court seeking quashing of the FIR and also legal protection which were turned down.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik demanded trial of the case in a Fast Track court, while senior BJP leader B B Harichandan claimed that the arrest followed pressure by opposition parties.

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