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Firing: probe hangs in the balance

Correspondent

Apex court turns down State's plea over continuance of the Naidu panel

CUTTACK: The Orissa Government now finds itself in trouble as the Supreme Court on Monday rejected its plea to allow Justice A S Naidu, a sitting judge of the High Court, to complete the probe into the January 2, 2006 police firing in Kalinga Nagar of Jajpur district.

According to reports, the SC reiterating its earlier orders that sitting judges of High Courts cannot head judicial fact-finding commissions, has turned down the request of the Orissa Government over the continuance of the Justice Naidu panel.

Justice Naidu was appointed in February 2006 by the State Government to head the commission of enquiry into the police firing in which 12 tribal persons were killed on the day and later two others succumbed to the injuries.

After holding enquiry for nearly 10 months, the Commission suspended its proceedings in December last in view of the apex court's observation in the case of University of Kerala Vs Council principal's college, Kerala, on continuance of sitting judges of High Courts as commissions of enquiry in different states.

The Supreme Court in 2002 had asked the State Governments not to appoint inquiry commissions headed by sitting judges of High Courts because of mounting pending cases in HCs.

Exasperated by repeated violations of its judgment, the apex court on November 27, 2006 had stayed the proceedings of all such probe panels in the country.

The apex court however, had made it clear that its order would not be applicable to commissions probing matters of national interest where they have completed the inquiry or are ready to submit their reports.

Lawyers' stand

Lawyers conducting cases before the commission however, blame the Orissa Government for its failure to obtain any specific instruction from the Apex court, as Kalinga Nagar incident caused concern in the entire nation.

"It was unfortunate that the entire exercise by the Commission and other lawyers has now gone in vain," says Bibhu Kalyan Tripathy, a lawyer appearing before the Naidu panel.

Moreover, the commission was on the verge of completion of its inquiry and the people of entire nation were waiting to know its outcome, he said.

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