GUWAHATI, Sept 3 - The Gauhati High Court today declared as �invalid� the constitution of the KN Saikia Commission which probed the secret killings and quashed its reports.
Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had challenged the constitution of the KN Saikia Commission on the ground that when the panel was constituted the JN Sarma Commission was still valid. Mahanta had filed a writ petition in the court in 2008.
Mahanta�s lawyer Rajib Baruah said a single bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan today disposed off the petition, declaring the KN Saikia Commission as invalid.
�The court observed that the Saikia Commission was illegal as at the time of its constitution the JN Sarma Commission was still valid. To discontinue a commission, the government has to pass a resolution in the Assembly, which was not done. Also no gazette notification was issued,� Baruah said.
Within months of coming to power, the Tarun Gogoi government set up a judicial inquiry under retired Gauhati High Court Justice Meera Sarma into six cases in which 11 persons had been killed. In October 2003, however, Justice Meera Sarma pulled out �on personal grounds�, following which a fresh commission was appointed under another retired HC judge, Justice J N Sarma in the same year. The KN Saikia Commission was formed in 2005 to probe the same cases.
The government had later asked the Saikia Commission to probe into other cases of �similar nature�. �But the Commission picked the cases by itself. Legally, the government should decide which cases should be probed and the Commission does not have the power to decide it,� Mahanta�s lawyer said.
Saikia's report was tabled in the State Assembly in November 2007. The one-man commission noted in its report that �there is enough evidence to show that the then Home Minister (the portfolio was with Mahanta) was at the helm of these extra-constitutional killings.�
The Commission had said there was lurking evidence of police and surrendered ULFA militants nexus in the �extra-constitutional killings�.
The government also tabled the preliminary report of the Justice JN Sharma Commission, constituted prior to the setting up of the Saikia Commission. Justice Sharma had said he was not able to identify the killers and accomplices, and pinpoint responsibility.