The Orissa High Court on Monday stayed the execution of NCST's order to arrest Keonjhar District Collector and District Magistrate Ashish Thakare for failing to appear before it despite reminders in connection with a case relating to non-payment of compensation and employment benefit to a tribal person in a land acquisition case.

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) had ordered state director general of police S K Bansal to arrest the Keonjhar district magistrate-cum-collector and had directed that Thakre be produced before it in person on April 19.

Justice Biswanath Rath while hearing a writ petition filed by Thakare ordered that the NCST order, which had been passed on April 11 will remain stayed till the next listing of the case after six weeks.

The High Court, however, made it clear that the pendency of the writ petition shall not stand in the way of NCST proceeding with the inquiry involved and that it falls within its domain to arrive at conclusion even in the absence of the collector by providing the right of submission to the representative of the collector on appropriate notice.

The High Court also observed that the case, prima facie, appears to have been tilted in favour of the district collector.

Thakare was summoned by NCST in a matter of non-payment of compensation and employment benefit to Dara Singh Khutia of Lahanda village of Keonjhar in a land acquisition case. Thakare had reportedly ignored the Commission's summons issued at least eight times during the last six months.

The Commission took exception to this and had on April 11 issued an arrest warrant against him. In a letter on April 13, the NCST had directed the Odisha DGP to arrest and produce the collector before the Commission in New Delhi on April 19.

Bansal had directed Inspector General of Police Amitendranath Sinha to ensure Thakare's deposition before the NCST.

With PTI inputs