Charge was that officials failed to prevent violence on May 2, 2003

The State government has withdrawn a case filed before the Kozhikode Vigilance Tribunal against former Kozhikode Collector T.O. Sooraj and former City Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Kumar Patjoshi for their failure to prevent the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003.

However, it appointed a two-member panel comprising James Varghese, Principal Secretary, Fisheries and Ports, as inquiry officer and Rajesh Dewan, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP- Training) as presenting officer to look afresh into the case.

The inquiry officer will submit his report within three months, an order issued by K. Jose Cyriac, Chief Secretary, said.

The government had earlier filed a case against them in November 2008 based on the findings and recommendation of the Marad Judicial Inquiry Commission that investigated the killing of nine persons on the Marad beach.

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

The fresh development comes when Vigilance Tribunal Judge P. Suresh, who has been carrying out the trial for the past four years, has almost completed the examination of the witnesses, including N. Shankar Reddy, ADGP (North Zone); T.K. Rajmohan, SP, Kozhikode Rural; T.V. Kamalakshan, former SP, Crime Branch; and T.K. Vinod Kumar, Deputy Director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.

The government was forced to withdraw the case against Mr. Sooraj and Mr. Patjoshi as both of them had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) arguing that the Vigilance Tribunal had no authority to initiate proceedings against them as they were all India service officers.

Subsequently, the CAT, as per an interim order on August 14, 2012, stayed all further proceedings against them.

The order, a copy of which is in possession of The Hindu, said in view of the interim order, the government had examined the case in detail.

It had decided that “the disciplinary action initiated against Mr. Sooraj and Mr. Patjoshi from the stage of written statement of defence many be reassigned to a senior officer of the government.”

In a report submitted to the government on February 18, 2006, Inquiry Commission Thomas P. Joseph 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. The allegation of communalism raised against Mr. Sooraj cannot be ignored as baseless and is required to be inquired into by the State government or such other authority as that could have had bearing on the failure of the civil administration”.

In the case of Mr. Patjoshi, the commission said he was “also responsible for the failure of the city police administration in taking effective steps to prevent violence on the Marad beach on May 2, 2003. He did not effectively carry out many of the directions issued to him in that regard by his superior officer. He did not maintain good relationship with the then District Collector who was also the District Magistrate.”

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