Govt officials fail to file affidavits in liquor tragedy

Cuttack: At least 20 government officials on Saturday filed their affidavits before the Justice A S Naidu Commission, which is probing into the Cuttack-Khurda district liquor tragedy of February this year that claimed at least 40 lives.

Even as the Commission had earlier issued notices to 29 government officials asking them to file their affidavits by July 14, at least nine officials failed to comply to the notice.

Expressing dissatisfaction, Justice Naidu, however, gave a last chance to government officials to file their affidavits and fixed August 4 for next sitting.

Collectors of Cuttack and Khurda, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Cuttack city and Bhubaneswar and the state drugs controller were among those officials, who were asked in the month of June to file their affidavits.

Notices were issued to these government officials under Section 8 of Commission of Enquiry Act as the Commission had felt that names of these officers have found place in the affidavits filed by different witnesses and accordingly they were given a chance to defend themselves.

But the manner, in which the proceedings in the panel are taking place while officials are taking lightly to the notices of the Commission, has upset the advocates who are attending the hearing as counsels of several witnesses.

"Even as the Commission held its eighth sitting, no discernible progress has yet been made," said advocate Khirod Rout, representing witness Digambar Mohapatra, ex-chairman of Baranga Panchayat Samiti of Cuttack district.