For the second time in the last two months, the Cuttack district administration today took charge of Barabati Palace (Kalyan Mandap) and 23 shops built on government land adjacent to Barabati Stadium allegedly encroached by the Odisha Olympic Association (OOA) following Supreme Court orders issued on Thursday, informed Laxmidhar Mohanty, ADM Cuttack. From now on, payments towards booking for Barabati Palace will be received by ADM Palit only through cheques or bank drafts, he said.
Cuttack ADMs Laxmidhar Mohanty, Ajit Kumar Palit and tehsildar Cuttack (Sadar) arrived at Barabati Stadium this afternoon and took charge of the property after completing paper formalities. The apex court had Thursday ordered constitution of a committee comprising Cuttack collector and two ADMs of Cuttack district to take charge of the Kalyan Mandap (Barabati Palace) and 23 shops that had come up on the encroached land. The committee will function under the Revenue secretary of the state government, the court had directed.
The court has also ordered an audit of the OOA by the Accountant General (AG), Odisha . The OAA had got some relief on December 11 last year with a Supreme Court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice UU Lalit granting a stay on the Crime Branch probe that Odisha High Court had ordered into the dispute following an appeal in the apex court by the OOA.
While issuing notice returnable within six weeks to the state government, the apex court, in its interim order, had then said: “There shall be stay of operation of the impugned order till the next date of hearing.” The single judge bench of Justice BP Ray of the high court had delivered the judgment on November 29 while dealing with the dispute involving the encroached area (0.705 acres) adjacent to a larger area (20.808 acres), which was granted on lease to the OOA by the state government in 1949 for construction of the Barabati Stadium.
The Crime Branch had started its probe into the affairs of the OOA following the high court order. The district administration had also taken possession of the Kalyan Mandap (Barabati Palace) and 23 shops that had come up on the encroached land. The OOA is the apex sports body of state associations for various sporting disciplines such as football, hockey, table tennis, basketball and athletics. The Cuttack collector had filed an appeal in the high court in 2001 after a subordinate court had permanently restrained the official from executing an order of eviction from the encroached land while giving a verdict in the OOA’s favour.
Justice Ray had set aside the order passed by the first additional civil judge (senior division), Cuttack, and had sent the matter back to the subordinate court for disposal within six months. He had directed the district collector to take over the property that had come up on the encroached land. The court had appointed the collector as the receiver of the property till disposal of the case. Justice Ray had also directed the additional director general of police (crime branch) to probe into the affairs of the OOA, the custodian of Barabati Stadium, and submit its report within three months. The court felt an inquiry was necessary as the affairs of the OOA were prima facie not clean and its entire deal was fraught with malafide.
Justice BP Ray had observed that the assets of OOA had become “the parental property of some individuals”. The high court found that the OOA had permitted a private agency to construct the Kalyan Mandap on the encroached land and later signed an agreement with it while the dispute was pending before the subordinate court. According to the annual report of the OOA placed at the association’s annual general meeting on September 19, 1999, the Kalyan Mandap was planned and construction taken up in September 1991. Construction of the Kalyan Mandap complex named as Barabati Palace was completed in 1998. The then Chief Minister JB Patnaik had inaugurated it on January 28, 1999.