Batala factory blast: Cong Rajya Sabha MP seeks probe by ex-HC judge

Raising questions over the magisterial inquiry, senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa on Monday sought a probe into the Batala firecracker factory blast by a former high court judge.

The Rajya Sabha MP claimed that the magisterial probe could not be conducted in a "proper way" as the administrative authorities might have permitted the illegal factory to operate.

"the inquiry will not be conducted in a proper way as the administrative authorities are themselves conniving with the factory establishments," Bajwa alleged in a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The Congress leader also accused the district authorities of not taking appropriate action against the illegal firecracker factory despite a similar blast taking place in 2017.

Twenty-four people were killed and several had sustained injuries in the blast on September 4 after which the additional deputy commissioner was asked to conduct an inquiry.

"The ADC would also be a part of the officials who have connived and permitted this factory to operate illegally," Bajwa alleged, saying it was a perfect case where the government "committed the accused to become the investigating officer as well as the judge".

He added that it was a settled principle of law that justice should not only be done but also appear to have been done.

"For justice to be delivered by initiating action against the guilty and delinquent officials, I would request you to bring out the truth in this case by ordering a probe by a retired high court judge who would be in an independent position to conduct the inquiry," Bajwa wrote to the CM.

He also demanded that all illegal firecracker factories be moved out of residential areas.

He reiterated his demand of Rs 25 lakh ex gratia for the family of the each deceased and Rs 10 lakh for grievously injured.