Jat quota violence: Jha Commission completes probe, yet to submit findings
Five years and several extensions later, the SN Jha Commission of Inquiry (CoI), constituted by the BJP government to inquire the 2016 Jat quota violence that left 30 persons dead in Haryana, has completed its probe.
The two-member Commission, however, is yet to submit its findings to the state government despite the fact that its term had ended in July. The state government, it is learnt, was disappointed with the tardy progress being made by the Commission and was not keen to give any more extensions.
As per the Commissions of Inquiry Act, the government has to lay the report of the Commission along with a memorandum of the action taken before the state assembly within six months of the submission of the report by the Commission.
Was to submit report in 6 months
The Commission, which was given several extensions to complete the inquiry, was originally mandated to complete the probe in six months from its first sitting.
Chairman of the Commission, justice (retd) SN Jha said they have completed the probe and the inquiry report is now with the secretary of the Commission. The chairman did not elaborate as to why the report has not been submitted by the Commission so far. “The secretary is also competent to submit the report,” he said.
The CoI was mandated to inquire into the sequence of events leading to the agitation and all facts and circumstances relating to the occurrence of violence leading to loss of lives, damage to properties — both private and public, including roads, canals, railway stations, police stations — and illegal felling of trees besides violation of human rights from February 18 to 23, 2016, in Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Jind, Hisar, Kaithal and Bhiwani.
It was to also inquire into the existence of a deep-rooted conspiracy, if any, to damage the social fabric of the society and any such matter as may be found relevant in the course of the inquiry.
‘Poor progress due to court case’
Till January 2020, the Commission had made little headway in the inquiry and the chairman of the Commission had told HT that due to a court case the Commission was not able to proceed further. He recently said they were finally able to overcome the litigation and finish the probe.
Virender Kumar, a close aide of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had filed a plea in the high court challenging the constitution of the Commission on grounds that the same had been constituted to nullify the findings of the Prakash Singh Committee.
The petitioner had also submitted that during pendency of investigation by the special investigating team (SIT) of police, there was no necessity of setting up a commission as its entire proceedings were based on the FIR itself.
The Prakash Singh Committee constituted in February 2016 had indicted high-ranking officials of the police and state administration in its probe pertaining to the role of officers of civil administration and police during the Jat reservation agitation.
On January 7, 2020, the counsel for the petitioner had submitted before the HC bench of justice Lisa Gill that he, along with the co-accused, have been discharged in a criminal case of looting, vandalism and arson (FIR number 101 of February 24, 2016) registered at Rohtak Civil Lines police station pertaining to the quota violence.
Haryana advocate general BR Mahajan, however, on February 5, 2020 had informed the HC that as far as the discharge of the petitioner is concerned, it is only one of the grounds which the petitioner is entitled to take before the Commission.
There is no decision on the part of the state to not proceed against the petitioner, Mahajan said.