03 August 2019
Bhubaneswar: A day after Orissa High Court suggested to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for a probe into the Kunduli gang rape and suicide case, Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra tabled the report of the Commission of Inquiry in the Odisha Assembly on Saturday.
While the State Government in January 2018 had appointed the District Judge, Koraput as Commission of Inquiry on the alleged incident of kidnapping, sexual assault and suicide of a minor girl of Musaguda in Koraput, the Commission had submitted its report to Government on September 20, 2018, after completion of the inquiry.
After being examined in the Home Department, the report was accepted by the Government excepting one recommendation of the Commission regarding removal of the statue of the victim from Kunduli Chowk.
As per the recommendations of the Commission, the State Police Headquarters has been requested to issue strict instructions to all the investigating agencies to take all necessary steps during investigation to hide the identity of the victim of sexual assault as required under law.
It has been instructed to all concerned that any District or State Authority should not make the progress of investigation public in front of media before the investigation is over, especially in cases of sexual assault.
While submitting the report in the Assembly today, the Minister also stated that delay has occurred at various stages while processing, examining, taking action and printing of the Report.
Notably in 2017, a broad daylight gang rape took place in the jungle road of Musaguda village under Kunduli GP when a 15-year-old tribal girl was returning from the Kunduli bazaar to her home. Her mother filed an FIR in the Pattangi PS alleging it to be the handiwork of four armed personnel in uniform.
Odisha Police began investigation into it tagging it as ‘red flag’ case. Midway, the girl committed suicide on January 22, 2018.
It was after the Orissa High Court accepted the State Government's request to conduct a Judicial Inquiry into the incident, the District Judge of Koraput, on December 26, 2017, was appointed as Commission of Inquiry and asked to submit a report on the case within three months.
Further on January 20, 2018, the Home Department approved the engagement of Registrar Civil Courts, Jeypore as Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry.
On February 5, 2018, the District Judge of Koraput assumed the charge of the office following which a notification was published in all news papers on February 16, 2018, giving one month time inviting affidavits from the general public on the issue.
Later on March 16, 2018, Advocate Prabhakar Patnaik was appointed as Special Counsel to the Commission on behalf of the State Government.
As no affidavit was found even after the stipulated date, the Commission published a fresh notification in two daily Odia newspapers largely circulated in the locality extending the date of submission till April 16, 2018.
Koraput Collector was also requested to pass necessary instructions to affix the notification in the conspicuous parts of the concerned area.
Following it, affidavits along with filed copies of documents were submitted by the then Pottangi Police Station IIC Dev Kumar Gomango, Crime Branch DSP Saubhagya Laxmi Patnaik and Inspector Mamata Panigrahi of Human Rights Protection Cell, Koraput.
While the Special Counsel also submitted a list of witnesses to be examined int he case, no affidavit had been received from the side of the victim girl.
On April 29, 2018, the Commission along with Secretary and official staff visited the spots of the alleged sexual assault near Musaguda and the house of the victim situated at Musaguda where she allegedly committed suicide.
Following it, the Commission examined 14 witnesses on May 13, 2018 at Semiliguda and closed its evidence on July 15, 2018. The relatives of the victim girl were examined on July 29, 2018.
On further request of the Special Counsel, another witness Prabhat Kumar Padhi, HOD of Department of Medicines, SCB Medical College & Hospital was examined on August 26, 2018.
As the enquiry could not be completed within the stipulated period of three months, as per the request of the Commission, the Government extended the period of Commission of Inquiry twice.