Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Orissa government and Centre on a PIL seeking to restrain the state from releasing Naxals in exchange for captive BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka.
The Supreme Court issued the notice while hearing the plea filed by a retired Army officer asking to restrain the Odisha government from meeting the demand of Maoists for releasing jailed rebels.
Major General (retd) Gangurdep Bakshi, a counter-terrorism operations expert, had pleaded with the apex court yesterday that the state government should be restrained from releasing the Maoists captured by the security forces, who had risked their lives to nab them.
The apex court bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra, while agreeing to hear the plea today, also pulled up Bakshi for moving the court so late.
People`s court to decide on Hikaka today
In a message to the media, a leader of CPI (Maoist) Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) said the fate of the 37-year-old tribal MLA from Laxmipur would be decided by the `praja` court.
The announcement from the home-grown rebels was made after they rejected the government’s decision of withdrawing cases against 13 prisoners for the freedom of Hikaka.
Bowing to demand by Maoists that it withdraw cases against 13 prisoners for the freedom of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, the Odisha government on Wednesday announced that it was agreeable to do so after expiry of the deadline set by the ultras at 5:00 pm.
"It has been decided to take steps for withdrawal of prosecution against 13 persons following the due process of law," Home Secretary UN Behera told reporters shortly afterwards.
The Maoists had set 5 pm on Wednesday as the deadline for the release of 29 Maoists in exchange of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka.
The message said the deadline had been extended four times in the past and there would be no further extension.
A Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, who fights cases of Maoists and their frontal organisation, said the praja court was likely to be held tomorrow and time and venue would be decided later.
The Maoists had demanded that cases of those to be released should be withdrawn and had declined to seek bail.
The ultras had dropped the name of Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, accused in the killing of 55 policemen, from the list of rebels sought to be freed in exchange for the legislator who was kidnapped on March 24 from Koraput district.
They wanted the lawyer and the MLA`s wife Kaushalya to accompany the freed rebels to Balipeta to Narayanpatna area in Koraput district for a hostage-prisoner exchange.