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Naveen must apply his mind on retainig chargesheeted minister-Punia

Posted on Nov 02, 06:56PM | UNI

National Commission for Scheduled Caste Chairman P L Punia today asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's to use his conscience on whether to retain health and family welfare minister Dr Damodar Rout, chargesheeted in a scheduled caste atrocity case, in his cabinet.

Dr Punia, who was here to review the performances of the state government in the matter of providing constitutional safeguards to the Scheduled Caste, told newspersons that Dr Rout had already been found guilty for making derogatory remarks against scheduled caste and the chargesheeted.

A case against him was now pending in the High Court, he said adding that the trial of the case could not be started as Dr Rout managed to get a stay on the proceedings of the lower court.

Dr Punia said it was the prerogative of the Chief Minister to decide whom to take in his Council of ministers. It was up to the conscience of the Chief Minister whether to retain a person with criminal offence against him in his cabinet.

The NCS Chairman said the presence of Dr Rout in the cabinet was sending wrong message to the society. Dr Punia said he also asked the state government to initiate steps to vacate the stay granted by the High Court.

The state government, he said, had told him that an instruction in this regard had already been given by the state Advocate General.

Dr Rout at a public meeting in Jagatsinghpur in 2010 had uttered some words against the scheduled caste. Later a case was filed against him in the local police station.