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Panel chief moves court

Cuttack, Dec.19: The decision to remove Justice Ashok Kumar Samantaray from the post of president of State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has come under scrutiny of Orissa High Court.

Odisha government removed the retired judge of Orissa High Court from the post before completion of his five-year tenure. He was appointed on July 18, 2008.

The government took the step after receiving and examining the high court inquiry report related to irregularities in disposal of cases by the commission.

However, Justice Samantaray has challenged his removal in the high court. Hearing the petition, division bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra, issued notices to the state government on Tuesday.

The court also issued notice to Justice Raghunath Biswal, retired judge of Orissa High Court, who succeeded Justice Samantaray on November 24. The matter will be heard when the court reopens after winter vacation.

Justice Samantaray has argued that the Orissa Consumer Protection Rules, 1988, provides for action against the commissionís president only on the basis of findings of an inquiry instituted by the state government.

Prior to his removal, the commission was embroiled in a controversy over a slew of allegations regarding several irregularities in functioning and disposal of cases.