KARNATAKA

Panel yet to get extension order

Govind D. Belgaumkar



The term of the commission expired on Wednesday

It has completed examination of

712 witnesses



MANGALORE:The Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission inquiring into the attacks on Christian prayer halls and churches in the State was yet to get extension of time at the close of working hours on Wednesday — the last day of its present term.

The commission, which has been set up to identify persons and organisations responsible for a series of incidents in Dakshina Kannada and other districts in September 2008, had sought extension of time.

It has also been asked to inquire into the sequence of events and circumstances leading to attacks, and to ascertain whether there was any negligence or lapses on the part of district administration in dealing with the situation.

The commission pointed out recently in Mangalore that it had completed examination of 712 witnesses and 307 witnesses had been partly examined. In addition to completing their examination, the commission would summon witnesses for further clarification under Section 8B of the Commission of Inquiries Act, 1952.

Time needed

The commission will have to give opportunity for advocates to put forth their arguments.

The commission head said he would need about a month's time to write the final report. N. Vidyashankar, Secretary to the commission, told The Hinduon Wednesday that the commission would wait for two or three days before taking a decision on its next course of action.

A section of the media had quoted Home Minister V.S. Acharya as saying that the term would be extended by a month. Though even one month will not be sufficient, the commission will have to work towards winding up its work.

What if it does not get extension of its term? Mr. Vidyashankar said that this would not affect the administrative work of the commission, though it would not be able to take up judicial activity.

Since the Government had not issued an order closing the working of the commission, it could continue to function as provided in the Commission of Inquiry Act.

Options

Mr. Vidyashankar said the commission had two options if its term was not extended: it could submit all the material collected so far to the Government or make a report based on the material collected already and submit it to the Government.

Advocate for Chrisitan Memorialists Francis Assisi Almeida pointed out that commission was yet to cross-examine its key witnesses such as the former SP of Dakshina Kannada N. Satish Kumar and Bajrang Dal leader Mahendra Kumar.

“The full truth has not been revealed to the commission, yet,” he said. If the term is not extended it would defeat the very purpose for which the commission was appointed, he observed.