The Supreme Court will hear a petition where Madhya Pradesh wants to have complete custody of a report by an inquiry commission into alleged corruption in relief and rehabilitation work undertaken by the state government in connection with the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project.
The bone of contention is the voluminous report recently submitted by the Justice S.S. Jha Commission to the Madhya Pradesh High Court after investigations that lasted seven years.
Appointed in 2008, the commission went into alleged corruption in five aspects of rehabilitation of thousands of people facing submergence under the multi-state dam project.
The state government, which never challenged the appointment of the commission by the high court, says it should be handed over the report in complete secrecy and the government would decide what to do with it.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice A.K. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjay Yadav on February 16 had rejected the Madhya Pradesh government’s demand that it should be first handed over the inquiry commission’s report and that it would place it in the legislative assembly.
The high court had ordered the report to be handed over to all the parties in the matter, including the Narmada Bachao Andolan that has been spearheading the cause of the people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project.
The bench observed that it was the high court and not the government or the legislature that had appointed the inquiry commission and the high court would now initiate further action.
The high court ruling sent the Madhya Pradesh government into panic mode and it acted swiftly to ensure that the commission report does not get out.
On February 19, the state government moved an application that the report not be given to anyone since it had disputed the high court order before the Supreme Court and that it be given one month’s time.
The high court allowed the application and fixed the next hearing for March 30. But it is the Supreme Court that will now hear the Madhya Pradesh government on March 30.
The apex court will decide if the high court or the state government will get exclusive possession of the inquiry report.