The Gauhati High Court has granted the Assam government four weeks to file an updated status report in the case pertaining to the demolition of houses of five Muslim accused of setting a police station on fire two years ago, PTI reported on Sunday.

On May 21, 2022, a mob had torched the Batadrava police station in Nagaon district, a day after a fish trader, Safikul Islam, was allegedly killed in custody. Islam’s family had alleged that the police demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe to release him.

A day after the police station was burnt down, the police had demolished the homes of the five accused men. There are no provisions under the Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime but this has become a regular practice in several Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.

One of the men accused in the case of torching the police station,Ashikul Islam, had died in a road accident after he allegedly tried to escape police custody on May 30.

In his order, Justice Kaushik Goswami noted that senior government advocate D Nath produced a government communication that states that an enquiry panel formed to look into the demolition has submitted its report on January 4.

The court then granted the government four weeks to file the status report at the request of the government counsel. The case will now be taken up for hearing on February 16.

In November 2022, the Gauhati High Court had pulled up the police for demolishing the homes of the five men. It had said that there was no provision under any criminal law to use excavators and bulldozers to demolish houses “in the guise of investigation”.

The court had equated the bulldozing of houses to an act in a “gang war” and had asked the police to find better ways to investigate cases.

On January 3, 2023, the High Court disposed of the petition after the state government assured it of taking action against the erring officials within 15 days.

The court also asked the government to file a report about the steps that the government would take, and added that the case could be revived “merely by filing a note”.

The matter again came before the court in August, after those affected by the demolitions sought to revive the peition, reported PTI. The government counsel then told the court that a one-man enquiry committee has been formed and that the government needed time to file an updated status report based on its findings.