RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh has begun the process on withdrawal of the cases registered against the tribals under the Chhattisgarh Excise Act following the recommendation by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice A K Patnaik. While the state government is yet to initiate an action against those responsible in the Sarkeguda "fake" encounter, the move is seen as an attempt to assuage the tribal community. Seventeen people including seven minors were killed in an encounter in June 2012 at Sarkeguda in Bijapur district.
Based on the Patnaik committee’s two meetings held in Raipur on April 24 and October 30-31, followed by recommendations given by it, the state law and legal affairs department took the decision to withdraw the prosecution of the Scheduled Tribes (ST), who are inhabitants of the Maoist-affected districts with predominantly tribal population, in south Chhattisgarh.
The panel looked into the registered cases which were pending under the various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Chhattisgarh Excise Act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other Central laws.
The department under provision of CrPC section 321 had sent letter to eight district magistrates asking to immediately begin action on withdrawal of the cases.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel earlier this year decided to review the police cases lodged against the members of ST, mostly residing in conflict-ridden Bastar region, following which a 7-member review committee was constituted under Justice Patnaik on March 8. The panel began reviewing with a mandate to examine the criminal cases, registered under the state Excise Act and other laws, involving over 23000 adivasis.
The committee while recommending the withdrawal of 313 cases in its first report felt that the tribals facing criminal cases under the Excise Law might get isolated from the mainstream.
Besides the committee has further sent 312 cases filed under the Sections of IPC for review to the state Director General of Police.
A sub-committee constituted by the DGP will go through the cases registered under the provisions of Section 265 A, 265B and 321 of the CrPC and later submit the report to Justice Patnaik committee.