Bhopal witnessed high drama after SIMI judicial commission chief justice (retd) SK Pandey resigned on Saturday evening, but the state government refused to accept his resignation.
Sources said justice Pandey, who heads the single member judicial commission to probe the jailbreak and alleged encounter of eight SIMI men in Bhopal on October 31, reportedly put in his papers and left Bhopal. Sources added he left the circuit house, where he was staying with his baggage and boarded an auto.
When Hindustan Times contacted justice Pandey on phone, he said he didn’t want to comment on the developments.
A senior official in the chief minister’s office (CMO) told HT that justice Pandey sent his resignation to the state government. “But the government has decided not to approve it,” said the official.
On why Pandey had resigned, the official said there was some “protocol issue” , adding that the state government had already apologised to him for the same.
In the first week of November, the state government had issued a notification for instituting a judicial inquiry into the jailbreak and the alleged encounter, with justice Pandey heading the one-man inquiry commission. According to the terms of reference for the inquiry, it had to be completed in within three months and the report had to be submitted to the state government.
On October 31 – Diwali night – eight SIMI men broke out of Bhopal central jail after killing a warder and overpowering a sentry. They allegedly opened the locks of their cells and scaled the wall of the high-security prison with the help of a rope made of bed-sheets given to them for daily use. Within eight hours, they were gunned down at a hillock in Manikhedi village on the outskirts of Bhopal.
The inquiry is looking into the circumstances under which the men managed to escape, which officers and employees are responsible for the jailbreak, and the sequence the encounter took place at a hillock in Manikhedi. The inquiry has also been mandated to look into whether the alleged “encounter by police under the prevailing circumstances was rational?”. The inquiry has also been mandated to give suggestions to ensure this doesn’t happen in the state’s other 122 jails.