Bhima Koregaon Judicial Commission Seeks 6-Month Extension

The commission on Monday wrote a letter to the state chief secretary seeking an extension, citing the lockdown of the state in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mumbai: The two-member judicial commission inquiring into the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case on Monday sought a six-month extension from the Maharashtra government as it has postponed its hearing in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak and resultant lockdown.

The commission on Monday wrote a letter to the state chief secretary seeking an extension.

“In view of coronavirus epidemic and complete lockdown, the Commission has postponed its proceedings until further notice. As such the Commission is unable to submit any report,” the letter signed by commission secretary V.V. Palnitkar said.

“If extension is given by the state government, the Commission intends to examine 40-50 more witnesses, including police, state and prominent politicians. For that purpose, the Commission will require not less than six months,” it added.

Violence erupted in Bhima Koregaon and nearby areas in Pune on January 1, 2018 during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Koregaon-Bhima battle.

One person was killed in the riots and several others injured.

The Pune police had said provocative speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held on December 31, 2017 triggered the violence.

The Maharashtra government had set up a two-member commission in February 2018 to conduct an inquiry into the violence. The commission is headed by former high court judge J.N. Patel. Former chief secretary Sumit Mullick is its member.

It has since then received four extensions.

Last month, the commission was given a final extension till April 8 this year by the government to submit its report.

On March 18, the commission had issued summons to NCP chief Sharad Pawar to appear as a witness before it on April 4.

Apart from Pawar, the commission had also summoned a few senior police officials of Pune Rural area.

Pawar was summoned as a witness by the commission in view of certain statements made by him about the violence.