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HC on July 21 firing probe

Calcutta High Court on Tuesday barred the commission appointed by Mamata Banerjee to probe the July 21, 1993, police firing on Mayo Road that killed 13 people from questioning the then deputy commissioner (south), Nawal Kishore Singh.

Singh, now the chairman of the state vigilance commission, will have to appear for the hearing on December 4, but can go there with his lawyer.

“If Singh has anything to say about the firing, he will inform the commission about it in writing,” Justice Dipankar Dutta said in his order. “According to Section 8 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, the commission has the power to call senior police officers only in case of repeated complaints from witnesses against them. If Singh’s name appears several times during deposition by the witnesses, the commission can call him.”

The order followed a prayer by Singh seeking exemption from appearing before the commission.

Challenging the legality of the notification calling him before the commission, Singh had said that since he was DC (South) at the time of the incident, many witnesses would obviously complain against him. “The commission called me to question me on the incident without even hearing the other witnesses,” Singh said.

The commission headed by former Calcutta High Court judge Sushanta Chattopadhyay was formed in November 2011 to probe the firing at a Youth Congress rally led by Mamata Banerjee, then the state chief of the Congress’s youth wing, but started hearing witnesses and collecting evidence only in July 2012.

Manish Gupta, now the power minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet, was the state chief secretary at the time of the firing.