Biswas justifies withdrawal
By Our Spl Correspondent The Shillong Times
SHILLONG: Retired Justice Dinendra Biswas, former acting Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, has left a stormy trail following his untimely exit from the Enquiry Commission probing the Shillong jailbreak case. Justice Biswas maintains that he had not done anything “unethical”. Biswas also said that he had not received any money as yet for the Meghalaya assignment!
Seven under-trial prisoners including ‘contract killer’ Fullmoon Dhar had escaped the district jail on May 31 last year. The police in an encounter in Jaintia Hills allegedly gunned down Fullmoon while the rest were arrested. Following allegations of “fake encounter” the Meghalaya Government instituted a judicial inquiry into the case headed by Justice D Biswas on July 23 last year.
He was given 120 days to complete the probe. The Commission held its first sitting on October 6 last year and was later granted two extensions to complete the probe. But, to the shock and surprise of all, Justice Biswas resigned just a month before finishing the assignment.
The Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (SCAMOD), which spearheaded a campaign over the “fake encounter” issue claiming strong political overtones with alleged involvement of ruling party leaders, has been left shell-shocked. SCAMoD demanded an “explanation” from the Meghalaya Government over Biswas’s resignation.
Speaking to The Shillong Times Justice Biswas said, “I do not find any reason for anybody to be aggrieved by my action.” On whether his action was “unethical”, the Judge categorically replied, “not at all.”
On the matter of his quitting half through the job and thereby failing to bring matters to a logical conclusion, Justice Biswas argued that no one is indispensable. “Suppose a Chairman becomes invalid or dies, the work has to be completed by someone else”. On the “fake encounter” probe, the Judge said that it was nearly complete and it would take a maximum of two months for the probe report to be out. Justice Biswas, however, stated that evidence from the Government was yet to be recorded by the Commission. He said the new incumbent could complete it from where he had left. Justice Biswas cited precedents from the past where judges had resigned half way through their assignments. A few years ago in Assam a judge probing what had become known as “secret killings” had resigned and it was completed by another.
On April 28 the Judge took oath to head the Upa Lokayukta in Assam which in his own words is a “better assignment”. It is a body constituted under the Assam Act to deal with corruption in high places.
A defensive Justice Biswas said, “I had no choice. The warrant of my appointment had been issued by the Assam Governor and time had been fixed for swearing in. It could not wait.” The retired Justice said he had resigned from four other assignments, two each in Meghalaya and Assam, to take up the new job because a person holding the post of Upa Lokayukta has to be absolutely independent. Justice Biswas will hold that office until 2013. Meanwhile, CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing, also convener of SCAMOD, was not convinced of the “better offer” argument of Biswas. “If he gets a better private job he could quit the Assam assignment. What he has done is totally unfair,” an upset Kharshiing said and added, “all the work of the past few months has been lost. Everything may have to be started from a scratch.”