Role of former Kozhikode Collector T.O. Sooraj and former City Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Kumar Patjoshi in allegedly failing to prevent the 2003 beach killings to be probed.

A two-member panel appointed by the State government to inquire into the allegations that former Kozhikode Collector T.O. Sooraj and former City Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Kumar Patjoshi had failed to prevent the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003, has started functioning.

The panel comprising James Varghese, Principal Secretary, Local Self Government Department, as inquiry officer and Rajesh Dewan, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Training, as presenting officer is looking afresh into the case. It already held a sitting in Thiruvananthapuram scrutinising documents and chalking out further procedures.

Official sources told The Hindu on Thursday that the panel had scheduled to examine former Revenue Divisional Office P. Balan and former Additional District Magistrate P.S. Mohammed Sagir, who is now Kasaragod Collector on Saturday. However, both of them had expressed their inconvenience to give evidence on that day.

Initially, the LDF government had filed a case before the Kozhikode Vigilance Tribunal against the bureaucrats in November 2008 based on the findings and recommendations of the Marad Judicial Inquiry Commission that probed the killing of nine persons on Marad beach.

But in January, 2013, it withdrew the case after Mr. Sooraj and Mr. Patjoshi had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) arguing that the Vigilance Tribunal had no powers to initiate proceedings against them as they were all India service officers.

Thus the CAT, as per an interim order on August 14, 2012, stayed all further proceedings against them. “The disciplinary action initiated against Mr. Sooraj and Mr. Patjoshi from the stage of written statement of defence may be reassigned to a senior officer of the government,” the order said

Subsequently, K. Jose Cyriac, former Chief Secretary, issued an order constituting the new panel.

The charges against them were that they had failed to prevent the incident, failed to take timely action, and that there had been no coordination between them.

Incidentally, Kozhikode Vigilance Tribunal Judge P. Suresh carried out the inquiry for four years and had almost completed the examination of witnesses. Marad Inquiry Commission Thomas P. Joseph in his report submitted to the government on February 18, 2006, had pointed out that Mr. Sooraj was “also responsible for the failure of the civil administration in taking all timely, preventive and remedial action to prevent the massacre on the Marad beach.

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