RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh Congress on Sunday objected to a judicial commission set up to probe the May, 2013 Naxal attack in Jhiram Valley, in which several leaders of the party were killed, submitting its report to Governor Anusuiya Uikey instead of the Bhupesh Baghel-led state government.
The Jhiram Ghati Inquiry Commission's secretary and registrar (judicial) of Chhattisgarh High Court, Santosh Kumar Tiwari, had handed over the report to the governor on Saturday.
The commission, headed by former Chhattisgarh High Court judge Prashant Kumar Mishra, was constituted on May 28, 2013 following the attack on May 25 during the previous BJP government.
Justice Mishra is now Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The judicial commission has violated the prescribed and accepted procedure by submitting its report to the governor instead of the state government (cabinet).
Normally, whenever a judicial commission is constituted under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the panel submits its report to the government, state Congress chief Mohan Markam said in a press conference here.
Markam also questioned why the commission took eight years to submit its report, adding that it was a matter of research why it suddenly handed over the report to the governor and not the state government.
Sudiep Shrivastav, a lawyer who represented the Congress before the Commission and was present at the press conference, claimed the governor had no authority to take action on such a report, and that it should be forwarded to the state government in the interest of justice.
"The scheme of Commission of Inquiry Act is such that the state government has full authority to constitute or dissolve the commission and also to accept or reject its report. The orders issued on May 28, 2013 (for constitution of the judicial commission in Jhiram incident) as well as on January 21, 2019 (for inclusion of more points to investigate in connection with the incident), both categorically mention that the report has to be submitted to the state government," he said.
Since only the state government can take action on the report's recommendations, the governor should forward it to the state government, he added.
Meanwhile, hitting back, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and senior BJP leader Dharamlal Kaushik questioned why was there so much "panic" in the Congress over submission of the report to the governor.
"Being the Constitutional head of the state, there should be no objection to the submission of the report to the governor. Congressmen have kept raising the Jhiram issue in one way or the other in Assembly sessions. Do they feel that their politics would end after the arrival of this report? Why is there so much panic in the Congress," he asked.
He said the report should be made public and the Congress should keep objections they have about the report in the public domain.
Naxals had attacked a convoy of Congress leaders during the party's 'parivartan rally' in Jhiram Valley in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh on May 25, 2013, killing 29, including then state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, former leader of opposition Mahendra Karma and former Union minister Vidyacharan Shukla.
The Congress government in the state had, in January 2019, set up a 10-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Jhiram valley incident.