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Naidu panel ceases to exist
- Parties seek fast probe into firing

Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, May 5: The Justice A.S. Naidu Commission, constituted to probe into the circumstances leading to the death of 13 tribals in police firing at Kalinga Nagar on January 2 last year, was dissolved today in the wake of a Supreme Court diktat.

Justice A.S. Naidu declared that the Commission “ceases to function from today” as the Supreme Court had not given permission for continuance of the pro- be panel.

The dissolution of the Naidu Commission evoked mixed response from the political parties in the state.

Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Arya Gyanendra: “The government should appoint a retired judge at the earliest to complete the probe. Probe by a sitting judge would have been more impartial, though.”

Terming the development obvious after the Supreme Court decision, Biju Janata Dal general secretary Narendra Swain said: “A retired judge can resume the inquiry.”

The spokesperson of the BJP’s state unit, Nayan Mohanty, said: “The objective of the government was to ensure a free and fair probe into the Kalinga Nagar firing. It doesn’t matter whether a sitting judge or a retired judge conducts the probe.”

Justice Naidu suspended investigations on December 9 last year seeking a clarif- ication from the government on if he could continue with the judicial probe after the Supreme Court ordered that no sitting judge of a high court could head an inquiry commission.

The Orissa government, however, decided that the Justice A.S. Naidu Commission would continue with the inquiry.

In January, the government urged the panel to complete the inquiry as the process had reached the final stage and the terms of reference assumed “national importance”. But Justice Naidu asked the government to get the decision endorsed by the Supreme Court.

The matter was taken to the Supreme Court. But the apex court turned down the state’s plea on April 9.

Justice A.S. Naidu, a sitting judge of the Orissa High Court, was asked on February 10, 2006 to probe into the Kalinga Nagar firing and submit a report within six months. The government had extended the period of the Commission by another six months on August 10 last year.

The inquiry commission was looking to tie up several loose ends, including discontentment among the villagers of Gobarghati and Chandiagram panchayat near Kalinga Nagar over displacement and the compensation package of the district administration.

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