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Bhima Koregaon Judicial Commission Suspends Hearing After Maharashtra Govt Fails to Provide Accommodation In Mumbai

Sharmeen Hakim
2 Nov 2021 5:11 AM GMT
Bhima Koregaon Judicial Commission Suspends Hearing After Maharashtra  Govt Fails to Provide Accommodation In Mumbai
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The two-member judicial commission appointed by the Maharashtra Government to probe the caste-based violence at Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018, has indefinitely suspended its function due to the State government's apathy to provide proper accommodation for proceedings. "Unfortunately, nothing was heard from the government till October 31, 2021, about availability of...

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The two-member judicial commission appointed by the Maharashtra Government to probe the caste-based violence at Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018, has indefinitely suspended its function due to the State government's apathy to provide proper accommodation for proceedings.

"Unfortunately, nothing was heard from the government till October 31, 2021, about availability of suitable accommodation. Therefore, there is no other option before the commission but to suspend the hearing schedule till the government provides suitable accommodation to the commission. Accordingly, the commission hereby suspends all future hearings till the government provides suitable accommodation at Mumbai," VV Palnitkar, the commission's secretary, wrote to in a letter to the Chief Secretary (Home), GoM.

The two-member commission of former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice JN Patel and member Sumit Mullick was tasked with probing the Bhima Koregaon violence. A Dalit man was killed, and several others were injured. Advocate Ashish Satpute is the commission's lawyer.

Until now, the commission has functioned in Mumbai as well as its designated place in Pune. In Mumbai, the commission operated out of member and Chief Information Commissioner - Sumit Mullick's office after the State government failed to provide an accommodation.

The commission was set up in February 2018 and became functional on September 5, 2018. The commission has received an extension to complete its proceedings till December 31, 2021. So far, the commission has examined 35 witnesses.

An officer told Live Law that it is impossible to observe Covid-19 norms and social distancing in the single room at the information commission. "Several villagers were examined in Pune as it's closer to the Bhima Koregaon site, but there are several witnesses who now need to be examined in Mumbai."

The commission's secretary, Palnitkar, wrote that the issue has still not been resolved despite several emails and a meeting with the principal secretary. Justice Patel had sought the Chief Minister's intervention during the last meeting.

A hearing specifically scheduled between 8-12th November is cancelled.

"Through the letters and the emails under reference the commission is requesting the government to provide suitable accommodation in Mumbai at the earliest and had informed the government about proposed hearing scheduled from 8th to November 12 2021.

In the meeting dated October 28, 2021 Hon'ble Chairman Mr. Justice J. N. Patel, advised Mr. Saxena, Principal Secretary, Home Spl. to take up the issue directly to the office of Hon'ble Chief Minister and to get the suitable accommodation on emergent basis. It was also made clear that if suitable accommodation is not provided by October 29, 2021, the commission would suspend its hearing schedules," the letter read.

Hundreds of people visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon were attacked on January 1, 2018. It was the bicentenary year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon victory, and lakhs of people from across the state attended it. In the afternoon, violence erupted in Bhima Koregaon and surrounding areas. The violence had repercussions across the state, and Maharashtra observed a bandh on January 3.

On January 2, an FIR was registered against Brahmin leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide for instigating the riots.

However, the police actively pursued another complaint filed eight days later by right-wing activist Tushar Damgude blaming speeches at the Elgar Parishad event on December 31, 2017, for the violence.

In 2020 the NIA took over investigations into a probe. Fifteen activists were booked under the UAPA and accused of furthering the banned CPI(Maoist) agenda to overthrow the government.


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