Confusion prevailed over the continuation of retired Madhya Pradesh High Court judge S K Pandey as the head of the one-man panel probing the October 30 jailbreak by eight alleged SIMI activists and their subsequent “encounter” by police, with a top officer today saying Pandey has resigned over the lack of “infrastructure”.
According to the officer, Pandey quit over the “delay in providing a car by the government for carrying out official work”. However, he also added the retired judge has agreed to continue after government apologised to him.
“Yes, he (Pandey) has resigned citing that the government has not provided him a car for carrying out official work,” the officer close to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told PTI.
He said Pandey’s resignation has not been accepted.
When contacted over phone to know whether he has withdrawn his resignation, Pandey merely said, “Thank you very much” and hang up.
Thereafter, he couldn’t be contacted even after repeated calls were made.
According to sources, Pandey resigned yesterday, following which senior officials went into a huddle and scrambled to placate him.
The former HC judge was also probing the murder of Bhopal Central Jail warden Ramashanker Yadav allegedly by the SIMI activists before their escape on intervening night of October 30 and 31 last year.
According to Parvez Alam, the counsel for the deceased SIMI men, the Pandey commission has held two hearings so far and the next hearing is scheduled for March 1.
In a daring jailbreak, the eight SIMI under-trials escaped from the high-security Central Jail on the intervening night of October 30-31. They were gunned down in an alleged encounter by police on the outskirts of city on October 31 morning.
The encounter had mired in controversy with opposition Congress and other parties raising doubts over its genuineness after surfacing of a video clip and audio tapes that questioned the police version.
In a notification issued last November, the government asked the Pandey panel to probe the “circumstances in which the SIMI members escaped from the prison and the officials responsible for it”.
“How and under what circumstances the encounter took place at Manikheda village under Gunga Police Station limits on the outskirts of Bhopal in which all eight prisoners were killed…Whether the action taken by the police is justified under prevailing circumstances,” the notification stated.
Before setting up the Pandey panel, the government had announced a probe by an SIT comprising CID officers into the encounter and a separate investigation by former DGP Nandan Dubey into the jailbreak. However, it agreed for the judicial probe following demands made by the Congress and other parties.
(With inputs from PTI)