Tani Jongkey case: Inquiry officer failed to submit report on time, says victim’s family

[ Bengia Ajum ]

ITANAGAR, 28 Feb: A day after the special POCSO court in Yupia in Papum Pare district convicted tax & excise joint commissioner Tani Jongkey under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and sentenced him to three years’ rigorous imprisonment (RI) in connection with the 2017 sexual assault on a minor case, the family of the victim alleged that “an inquiry officer which was constituted based on the directive of the high court after Jongkey challenged the order of the state government to send him to compulsory retirement failed to submit their report on time.”

A writ petition [(c) 478 (AP) 2019] was filed by Jongkey, challenging the inquiry report dated 14 September, 2018, and the order dated 12 August, 2019 issued by the chief secretary, imposing a penalty of compulsory retirement.

While disposing of his petition, the Gauhati High Court had directed the state government to conduct a fresh inquiry against the petitioner, in accordance with Rule 14 (14), 14 (16), 14 (17), and 14 (18) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1965.

The court also passed an order that inquiry be conducted as expeditiously as possible, “preferably within a period of six months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of the order.”

Accordingly, the state government appointed Land Management Secretary Pankaj Kumar Jha as the inquiry officer and Papum Pare DC Sachin Rana as the presenting officer. The inquiry officer issued summons to the accused and the victim to take their statements.

The presenting officer attended the hearing as the witness. While Jongkey gave the statement on 2 August, 2022, the victim gave her statement on 5 August, 2022. The presenting officer was directed to submit the report within two weeks, and accordingly, he submitted it within the stipulated time.

However, the inquiry officer is yet to submit the final report to the state government. Speaking to this daily, Jha said that “the final preparation of report is going on.”

“We will submit the report to the competent authority within the next 15 days. I was in training; therefore preparation of report got delayed,” said Jha.

The special POCSO court on Monday convicted Jongkey under Section 8 of the POCSO Act and sentenced him to three years’ rigorous imprisonment in connection with the 2017 sexual assault on a minor case.

The court gave a month’s time to the defence to file an appeal in the high court.

On 2 June, 2017, Jongkey was accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and was booked by the police under the POCSO Act. Following this, the government on 22 August, 2017 placed Jongkey under suspension and constituted a two-member panel to inquire into the charges against him.

However, the high court directed the state authorities to revoke the suspension order and reinstate Jongkey in service from 22 November, 2017 – the day he was suspended.

In March 2018, Jongkey was reinstated as tax & excise joint commissioner by the high court. A year later, on 12 August, 2019, Jongkey was sent into compulsory retirement through an order issued by the chief secretary. He, however, got reprieve from the high court and rejoined service in 2022.