Special Correspondent

Judges not consulted while appointing panel to probe Omalur school incident

CHENNAI: Questioning the bona fides of the Tamil Nadu Government notification appointing a retired Judge of the Madras High Court to go into the Omalur school incident case, the First Bench on Friday said it was upset with the Government move.

Cautioning the Government against "over-reaching court proceedings," the Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru, pointed out that the Government's position, even on the last hearing date, was not in favour of constituting a judicial commission to probe the matter. It had informed the court that since the case had been transferred to the CB-CID for investigation, there was no need for separate proceedings.

While this was the case, the Government "suddenly" issued a notification appointing a retired Judge as an inquiry officer, the Bench said, adding, "This has thrown a lot of suspicion on your bona fides."

Referring to the court's repeated observation that it would name the judge, sitting or retired, even if the Government decided to hold a commission of inquiry, the Judges said the Government had also given a go-by to the convention/practice by which it would ask the Chief Justice to name a judicial officer.

The Judges were particularly critical of the terms of reference for the Commission, and asked the Government Pleader to tell the Government that unless the terms were withdrawn, the court would be constrained to pass interim orders.

Pointing out that the Minority Commission too has filed a report on the incident, the Judges asked counsel for the school to file an affidavit bringing the report on record. The school also is to challenge the latest notification. The administration has maintained that the death of Suganya was due to carelessness of the school management. The Bench has adjourned the matter until February 7.

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