THE Chhattisgarh High Court on Wednesday stayed proceedings of a judicial inquiry commission set up to probe the 2013 Jhiram Valley Maoist attack in which several Congress leaders were killed, and issued a notice to the state government.
The state government had reconstituted the commission by expanding the scope of its inquiry last year.
A division bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice R C S Samant issued notices and sought replies from the state government and the commission while hearing a PIL filed by BJP leader Dharamlal Kaushik, his lawyer Vivek Sharma said.
The court will hear the matter next on July 4, he said.
Maoists attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in Jhiram Valley in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district on May 25, 2013, killing 29 people, including then state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, former leader of opposition Mahendra Karma and former Union minister V C Shukla.
A judicial commission, headed by then Chhattisgarh High Court judge Prashant Kumar Mishra, was constituted on May 28, 2013, by the BJP government in the state to conduct an inquiry into the attack.
Eight years later, the Jhiram Ghati Inquiry Commission’s secretary and high court registrar (judicial) Santosh Kumar Tiwari handed over its report to the Governor on November 6, 2021.
Justice Mishra was appointed as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court last year.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and the ruling Congress, however, questioned why the report was submitted to the Governor instead of the government.
Baghel also claimed that the report appeared to be “incomplete”, as the commission had sought further extension of its deadline only in September 2021, but “suddenly” submitted the findings a few weeks later.
On November 11, the state government appointed a new chairman and a member to the commission, and expanded the scope of its inquiry to ascertain if the victims were provided proper medical care after the attack and proper steps were taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, among others.
Last month, Kaushik moved the High Court, challenging the constitutionality of the reconstituted commission. The report of the commission headed by Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra should have been tabled in the Assembly within six months of its submission, he said.
A new commission cannot be set up to re-investigate a matter which has been probed by a judicial panel, the petition said.