HC asks govt to facilitate judicial panel functioning

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to submit the details of the `terms of reference` of the Judicial Commission formed to investigate the recent `police-judicial magistrate brawl` at Rourkela and enable the commission to start its inquiry immediately.

Adjudicating over a PIL filed by advocate Dayanidhi Lenka, the division bench of Chief Justice V Gopal Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra asked the state government to publish the gazetted notification and also provide the necessary infrastructure, including recruit adequate commission staff so that it can begin probe at the earliest.

Earlier senior advocate Jagannath Patnaik, appearing for Rourkela Bar Association, urged the court to direct the government for enlarging the commission`s terms of reference.

Over 20 days after the police-judicial magistrate `brawl` at Rourkela on April 2, the government announced the appointment of Justice (retd) A S Naidu as Chairman of Judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate into the incident.

The petitioners submitted that although the government had announced that the commission would submit its report within three months, no gazette notification is yet in sight though four weeks had passed after April 26 announcement.

Among other terms of reference, the commission had also been asked to find out the role, conduct and responsibilities of the persons involved.

The alleged assault of Rourkela-based Panposh judicial magistrate (JMFC) Arun Kumar Patnaik by police inspector Sadananda Pujari on the night of April 2 evoked a state-wide protest by lawyers, including that of the High Court, thereby paralysing judicial activities for over a week.

Two FIRs were filed in Uditnagar police station of Rourkela, each against the police inspector and the judicial magistrate and a PIL in Orissa high court.

Immediately afterwards a worried state announced a judicial commission of enquiry, suspended the concerned police inspector and asked Rourkela SP Diptesh Patnaik to go on leave.