The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Firing probe panel fired
- Disband Naidu Commission: SC

New Delhi, April 9: Turning down the state government’s appeal to allow Justice A.S. Naidu Commission complete its probe into the Kalinga Nagar police firing incident, the Supreme Court today ordered the panel’s disbanding.

Rejecting the request of the state to allow the sitting high court judge to finish the inquiry, a bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat observed that the apex court had clarified in a 2002 judgment that a sitting judge could be spared only if it “becomes necessary for the paramount national interest”.

The court said the commission could not be allowed to continue, as it was not constituted as per the guidelines laid down by the apex court in the T. Fenn Walter case in 2002.

In November last year, the bench had asked all state governments to inform the court about inquiry commissions headed by sitting high court judges.

In no case, a commission headed by a sitting high court judge would be allowed to continue in violation of its orders, the court had said. However, if a commission had closed its hearings, it could file its report to the government concerned, the court added.

Soon after the order, Justice Naidu had sought a clarification from the state government on if he would continue the judicial probe. The government, however, chose not to disband the commission and filed an application requesting the apex court to let the Naidu Commission complete its proceedings, as it was nearing completion.

Advocate Radhashyam Jena submitted on behalf of the state government that the Commission was likely to wind up the hearings in the next four to six weeks. The court, however, pointed out that a sitting judge could not be asked to inquire unless the matter was of national or international interest. There would be no harm if you appoint a retired judge to probe into the incident, the court had observed while reserving its judgment on April 2.

The bench, which was hearing a matter relating to cleansing university politics in the country, had diverted its attention to the issue after being informed by the additional solicitor-general about the constitution of commissions headed by sitting judges in violation of the 2002 order.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, who had written the judgement in 2002 as a judge, had said that the “appointment of a sitting judge in a commission of inquiry has to be made only on rare occasions if it becomes necessary for the paramount national interest of the country”.

Disapproving such practice, he said when a sitting judge is appointed to another post, which is whole-time and if the decision taken in that capacity is subject to judicial review, it may not be in the best interests of the independence of the judiciary.

DGP arrest stayed

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the arrest of Bidya Bhushan Mohanty, DGP (home guards) of Orissa, in connection with the case related to the escape of his convicted son from parole.

A bench of Justice C.K. Thakker and Altmas Kabir stayed the arrest on an SLP moved by the DGP, who is apprehending arrest by the Rajasthan police.

Bitti Mohanty, the son of the IPS officer who was convicted for the rape of a foreign national in Rajasthan, had escaped while being out on a parole.

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