Updated: July 24, 2021 11:43:39 am
The Maharashtra government has granted an extension to the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry till December 31 this year. An order in this regard was issued by the state Home department on Thursday.
The two-member commission, headed by retired High Court justice J N Patel and also comprising former chief secretary Sumit Malik, was constituted by the state government on February 9, 2018, to inquire into the “exact sequence” of events that led to violence on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1 that year. One person had died and several others were injured in the violence.
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 then 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.
Hearings of senior officers, as well as of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, were scheduled before the commission between March 30 and April 4 last year.
But due to the Covid-19 outbreak, on March 23, 2020, the commission 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 some prominent political leaders.
Accordingly, the state government has given an extension to the commission till December 31 this year. The government has also asked the commission to submit its final report during this period.
V V Palnitkar, secretary of the commission, said that in the view of the Covid-19 situation, the government is planning to set up a facility for conducting partially virtual hearings of witnesses, in Pune and Mumbai.
Advocate Ashish Satpute, the lawyer representing the commission, said the schedule on hearings of witnesses will be released soon. “Tentatively, the hearings will begin from August 2 in Pune,” he said.
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