Orissa High Court stays conviction of former NALCO chief

BHUBANESWAR - The Orissa High Court has stayed the conviction of former National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO) chairman S.K. Tamotia in a graft case.

The court of a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge here had in February sentenced Tamotia to three years in jail on the charge of possessing disproportionate assets.

The high court bench of Justice Indrajit Mohanty last week stayed Tamotia’s conviction, observing that the trial court did not accept all of Tamotia’s income while determining disproportionate assets.

“The court has set aside the conviction and I am happy,” Tamotia, who held numerous positions at NALCO from 1984 until 1996, told IANS Wednesday.

After resigning from NALCO, Tamotia also held key positions in many premier organisations like Hindustan Aluminium Company Ltd (Hindalco) and Vedanta.

In his judgement, a copy of which is with IANS, Justice Mohanty said that no prima facie justification is found in the impugned judgement as to why income as indicated by the prosecution was not accepted and in fact decreased.

Justice Mohanty stated that the appellate court is duly empowered under section 389(1) to grant stay of conviction but in an exceptional case where the ramification and the consequence are such which may justify the exercise of such authority.

Justice Mohanty concluded that since the appellant is a highly qualified technocrat and as there has been non-application of mind by lower court leading to erroneous judgement, this is an exceptional and a rare case in which the order of stay of conviction should be passed and thus directed the stay of conviction.

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