Commission that held former Assam CM responsible for secret killings illegal: HC
The Gauhati high court on Monday quashed constitution of the KN Saikia commission that had held former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta responsible for secret killings of family members of ULFA militants almost two decades ago.
“The court called the constitution of the commission illegal because it violated Section 3 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1952. The commission of enquiry was constituted even as another commission was still enquiring and had not been dissolved,” said Rajib Baruah, Mahanta’s lawyer. The Commission, set up by the Congress government headed by Tarun Gogoi in 2005 to probe a series of killings between 1998 and 2001, had indicted the then chief minister Mahanta who also had the home portfolio. “There is enough evidence to show that the then home minister (Mahanta) was at the helm of these extra judicial killings,” the commission said in its report submitted in 2007.
“We have been fighting for 17 years. Finally we have got justice,” Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said, while reacting to the court’s verdict. According to Baruah, the commission was initially asked to enquire into 11 cases but its scope was widened to 32 cases.
KN Saikia commission had found how there was evidence of a nexus between the police and the surrendered ULFA militants, who where used as executioners by the police.
Victims who were mostly shot in the dead of the night were either family members of ULFA militants or had some connection with them.
The series of killings saw as many as four commissions of enquiry with Mahanta’s government constituting Safikul Haq commission, followed by Mira Sarma commission, JN Sarma Commission and then the Saikia commission.
“The Court took note of how the JN Sarma Commission was still functional when the government illegally appointed another commission,” Baruah said.
For the Congress, ‘Secret Killings’ was a big issue for its 2001 campaign and Tarun Gogoi has been raking it up since to target the Asom Gana Parishad and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.