Mandsaur firing incident Judicial commission head cross examination of govt officials

The order assumes significance in view of alleged SIMI encounter related judicial commission head not allowing cross examination of government officials earlier

bhopal Updated: Feb 14, 2018 11:33 IST
Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Police firing,Mandsaur,farmers
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, along with more than 100 supporters, was detained as he tried to enter Mandsaur on June 08, 2017. (Photo By Mujeeb Faruqui / HT Photo)(HT file photo )

In a significant ruling in the ongoing judicial inquiry into the Mandsaur firing incident of June 6, 2017 that claimed lives of five farmers, justice (retired) JK Jain ruled on Tuesday that the advocates of the victims’ family will be able to cross examine the government witnesses in this case.

The order assumes significance because in the 2016 encounter case, in which eight suspected SIMI activists were allegedly killed by police on the intervening night of October 30-31, 2016 after they had allegedly escaped from Bhopal central jail, the family of the victims and their advocates were not allowed to cross examine any of the government witnesses by the one-man judicial commission led by justice (retd) SK Pandey, which had led human rights activists to dub the entire commission as a farce.

The one-man judicial commission set up in the wake of the Mandsaur firing incident is been keenly watched as the killing of the farmers spurred a massive farmer’s movement all over the state putting the Shivraj Singh government on the back foot.

The commission has five-point terms of reference which includes (a) the circumstances under which the incident took place? (b) whether the force used by police was reasonable under prevailing circumstances or not? If not, who was responsible for it ?(c)whether the district and police administration had taken timely and appropriate steps during the prevailing circumstances and incident? (d) Suggestion to stop repetition of such incident in future and (e) Such other matters which are incidental to inquiry.

Senior advocate Anand Mohan Mathur who was demanding the right to cross examine the official witnesses argued that his client Jagdish, elder brother of deceased Kanhaiyalal, Balram, uncle of deceased Poonamchand and Madhusudan, elder brother of deceased Abhishek were not only close relatives of the deceased, but also witnesses to the entire incident and they had given affidavits before the commission and had also been cross examined.

The state’s advocate Avinash Sirpurkar had relied on the ‘Huzra Bi vs MP Government’ case (related to the SIMI encounter case) in which a division bench has ruled that relatives of the deceased or their representatives did not have right to cross examine official witnesses.

Justice Jain ruled that the ruling in the Huzra Bi case was not applicable in this case and allowed the cross examination of official witnesses. However, he also put a rider that he will not allow any adjournment in the case.

The Jain commission was set up on June 12, 2016 and initially it was given six months time to complete the inquiry, which was extended for another three months and now the deadline for completing the inquiry is March 11, 2018. According to information, 185 persons have given their submission before the commission and have been cross-examined. Two government doctors who conducted the post mortem have also deposed. Now 26 government witnesses will depose on February 19, 20 and 21. These include policemen who were on duty during that period, senior police and administrative officials.

First Published: Feb 14, 2018 11:33 IST