The Orissa vigilance department has asked Prakash Mishra, a 1977-batch IPS officer and special secretary to Ministry of Home Affairs, to be present before the investigating officer in connection with a corruption case during his tenure as CMD of Orissa Police Housing and Welfare Corporation.
The move comes just ahead of the selection of the new CBI director, a position Mishra is being considered a frontrunner for.
Officials said the vigilance department has asked Mishra to present himself on December 4 in Cuttack for interrogation. However, sources said the summon can be construed as a contempt of court in view of an Orissa High Court order that no coercive action be taken against the senior IPS officer.
On September 20, the Bhubaneswar vigilance division had registered a case against Mishra, former Orissa DGP, under section 13(2) and 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 409 and 120-B of the IPC. The vigilance wing had alleged that during Mishra’s tenure as CMD of the police housing corporation, advance payment of Rs 59 crore was made to steel and cement suppliers in 2009 against existing rules.
Mishra had then filed a writ petition in Orissa high court last month, seeking quashing of the vigilance FIR.
The Orissa High Court had in its order restrained the state government and the Vigilance department from taking any coercive action against the former DGP till further orders. The court in its interim order had also said the vigilance case would not be an impediment for Mishra’s promotion to or appointment in any government post.
Besides the summon in the graft case, the BJD government has also sought to blame Mishra for the death of a woman teaching assistant in Rayagada district last year. On November 1, 28-year-old contractual teacher Itishree Pradhan died at a Vizag hospital after she was set afire by unknown criminals. The attack came months after she lodged a case against school inspector Netrananda Dandasena, accusing him of demanding sexual favours from her. In her dying statement, the teacher held the administration, including CM Naveen Patnaik, responsible for her death.
Agriculture secretary Rajesh Verma, who probed the matter, has said that Mishra, then Orissa DGP, treated the teacher’s complaint in a “routine manner”. “A more proactive response was expected from the DG. Strict instructions from him would have changed the course of events,” the inquiry has said, asking the former DG to explain his role in the matter within the next fortnight.