The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Chhattisgarh government and the Centre not to create any obstacle to activist Himanshu Kumar or his advocate meeting Sodi Sambho, an injured witness to the Gompad killings (mystery surrounds the killing of nine Adivasis in the village in October last), undergoing treatment in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here.

After hearing senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, a Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar passed this order on an application moved by Mr. Kumar alleging that he and Ms. Sambho’s lawyer were not being allowed to meet her to take instructions.

The Bench said: “Counsel for Chhattisgarh or any other advocate on behalf of the State shall also be permitted to remain present with the petitioner and/or the advocate for the petitioners at the meeting.” The parties were at liberty to take one interpreter each along with them. But the interpreter should not be a policeperson.

The Bench, while asking the Centre and Chhattisgarh to respond to the application, listed the matter for further hearing on February 1.

The applicants alleged that on January 9 and 10 the advocates for the petitioner went to Raipur to bring Ms. Sambho to Delhi for treatment at St. Stephen’s Hospital, but were not permitted by the police to meet her. They were informed later that she had been put on a train to Delhi for treatment in the AIIMS. Thereafter, the advocates returned to Delhi. A request was made for their meeting Ms. Sambho in the hospital, but it was not responded to.

The petition said: “There are reasons to believe that the police are not permitting either relatives or advocates to meet her. It is also possible that the police may coerce her to withdraw this petition as it is apprehended that she has been subjected to coercion systematically since January 4 and therefore it is in the interest of justice that her advocates be permitted to meet her to ascertain her views.”

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