New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) The Supreme court Thursday asked the central and Odisha governments to respond to a petition that sought to block release of 29 Maoists on bail in exchange for the ruling Biju Janta Dal's (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka, whom the rebels have taken hostage.
An apex court bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra issued notices to the two governments on the plea of former Major General Gagandeep Bakshi, who contended that the state government could not release Maoists who were nabbed by the security forces at the cost of their lives.
Solicitor General Rohintan Nariman told the court that the petitioner's prayer for directions to the government to frame guidelines for dealing with such situations was not maintainable as no such direction would be given under a public interest litigation (PIL).
Rohintan Nariman was asked by the court to assist it in the matter.
Maj.Gen Bakshi said that the state government has evolved a method by which it buckles under the pressure of the rebels and releases Maoist cadre on bail to avoid confrontation. At this the court asked, "Are you intending to say that there is a barter? We don't think so."
Maoists Wednesday accused the Odisha government of not taking steps on their demands and announced they would decide the fate of legislator Jhina Hikaka, who is in their captivity for the past over three weeks, in a "peoples' court" conducted by them.
The rebels set Wednesday evening as the deadline for the state government to decide on their demands.
"We don't have any faith in the government," a rebel leader, who identified herself as Aruna, said in an audio message which was received by some reporters here and aired by some television channels.
"There is no point in extending deadline. The fate of Jhina Hikaka will be decided in a praja court (people's court). People will decide on him," she said without specifying any date or when and where the praja court will be held.
Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist from his home district of Koraput March 24.
The Maoists have demanded the release of 29 prisoners, mostly members of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), which works mainly in the southern parts of the state, including Malkangiri and Koraput districts, on tribal-related issues.
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