NEW DELHI, June 1 - The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre, returnable within two weeks, asking it to reply to a petition by Kaushik Phukan seeking the whereabouts of his father Rebati Phukan, who went missing on April 22.
A vacation bench of Justice LN Rao and Justice MM Shantanagoudar urged Kaushik to move the Gauhati High Court. �What we can do, they (HC) too can do,� Justice Rao told senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Phukan.
Justice Rao initially reacted that if the Chief Minister is committed to find Phukan, there is no reason to �rush� to Delhi to the Supreme Court. �Was Rebati Phukan an activist or a mediator?� Justice Rao asked.
Confirming that her client�s father was a mediator and not an activist, Counsel Luthra impressed on the court her claim that the man in question is being held by Central agencies. Finally, the court asked the Centre to respond, while directing the Assam government to continue its police investigation.
There is no headway in the missing case despite Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal himself pledging help, Kaushik alleged.
He had earlier this week made an urgent plea in the Supreme Court, seeking an investigation by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team to locate his father, alleging that the local police have been dragging its feet. He also alleged that despite lodging of an FIR to trace his whereabouts, no serious step was taken so far. It is suspected that he may be in the custody of Central agencies, like the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence, National Investigating Agency, as there is inter-agency rivalry, the petition claimed.
Rebati Phukan is a member of the People�s Consultative Group, formed by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in 2005, to mediate between the separatist outfit and the Centre. He has been working towards brokering peace between the Government of India and the ULFA since 1990, the petition said, and added that in 1997, he played a crucial role in bringing ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia to India after 18 years in jail in Bangladesh.
The petition also claimed that Rebati was part of negotiations between ULFA Paresh Baruah faction and the Centre with help from the NSCN(I-M) interlocutor RN Ravi.
The plea said that on April 25, the Assam government had directed the Director General of Police to conduct an inquiry.