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Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry postpones hearings in Mumbai, seeks bigger space to enforce Covid protocols

The commission had summoned Harshali Potdar, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, and IPS officer Lakhmi Gautam for deposing as witnesses during the hearings.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: August 22, 2021 9:47:33 am
One person died and several others were injured in the violence on the 200th anniversary of Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. (File Photo)

The Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry has postponed its hearings in Mumbai, earlier scheduled to be held between August 23 and August 25, due to the unavailability of a large place to enforce Covid-19 protocols.

The two-member commission, headed by retired High Court judge Justice J N Patel, is probing the cause of the Koregaon Bhima violence of January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several injured.

The commission had summoned Harshali Potdar, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, and IPS officer Lakhmi Gautam for deposing as witnesses during the hearings.

“The place currently available for holding the hearings is too small. We tried to get a bigger place, where it is possible to maintain physical distance and take necessary precautions in view of Covid-19. We had also suggested the auditorium of Sahyadri Guest House in Mumbai for this purpose. But, due to the unavailability of a bigger place, we have postponed the hearings. The next series of hearings will now take place in Pune in September,” said V V Palnitkar, secretary, Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry.

The commission was initially given four months to submit its report, but its tenure had to be repeatedly extended to allow it to complete its work. The commission received three extensions of four months each, one extension of three months, one of six months, and the last extension of two months was from February 8 to April 8, 2020.

However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, on March 23, 2020, the commission had issued a letter postponing all hearings till further notice.

Meanwhile, the period of extension granted to the commission by the government expired on April 8. The commission had then sought further extension of at least six months, saying it intended to examine nearly 40 to 50 more witnesses, including police and revenue officers and also some prominent political leaders.

Accordingly, the state government granted it an extension till December 31, 2021. The commission then conducted hearings of witnesses in Pune between August 2 to August 6.

Advocate Ashish Saypute, lawyer for the commission, said the schedule for the next hearings has not been released yet, but will be soon.

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