SC puts Chhattisgarh govt in a fix over CBI probe into six-year-old Edesmetta encounter case
Six months after the Chhattisgarh government withdrew its consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe any case in the state, a recent Supreme Court order for a CBI probe into a six-year-old encounter in the state has put the government in a fix.
Hindustan Times accessed a letter written by the Chhattisgarh Police to the state’s home department, seeking permission to hand over investigation of the Edesmetta encounter case to the CBI. However, the department is yet to take a decision.
“We wrote (to the state government) on June 5 to give its consent as per the SC order,” confirmed director general of police, DM Awasthi. “The process of transferring the case to the CBI will follow only thereafter.”
The Edesmetta encounter took place in May 2013 in Edemetta village in the state’s Bastar region, when villagers were celebrating an annual summer festival. It was alleged that a team of the Commando Batatlion for Resolute Action (COBRA) launched an attack in which eight villagers and one COBRA personnel were killed. After hearing a writ petition filed by social activist Degree Prasad Chauhan, the SC on May 3, 2019 declared that the Edesmetta encounter should be probed by the CBI.
“The Court is of the opinion that more than five years have passed without effective investigation or enquiry into the deaths of tribals of Chhatisgarh. We are convinced that the matter pertaining to inquiry into incident should be referred to CBI for expeditious investigation. The Director, CBI shall ensure that the investigation is done by an officer /officers who are not from the state of Chhattisgarh,” reads the SC order.
Home secretary of the Chhattisgarh government, CK Khetan, said he will read the SC order and that “the decision will then be taken as per the law.”
Just after the encounter in 2013, the Chhattisgarh government had a parallel investigation team (SIT) to probe the case and also constituted a judicial enquiry under Justice VK Agarwal. The committee was mandated to investigate the case. In February 2019, it was granted a six-month extension.
“The encounter is a sensitive issue and government should be prompt in giving its consent to the CBI to investigate the case,” BJP spokesman for Chhattisgarh, Gauri Shankar Shrivas, said. “The dilly-dallying suggests that the government is not in action and ineffective in taking decisions.”