Monday, March 19, 2012

Nanavati Panel - SC notice to Guj govt on summoning Modi

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Gujarat government and the Justice G T Nanavati Commission inquiring into the 2002 post-Godhra riots in connection with a PIL seeking direction to the panel to summon and examine chief minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the communal riots.
A bench of justices D K Jain and A R Dave sought reply of the state and the inquiry panel on the PIL filed by one Amrish Patel representing NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch. His counsel, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, alleged that despite sufficient proof about “complicity” of the chief minister, the panel had not questioned him even once during its decade-long inquiry.
Although the terms of reference for the Nanavati Commission were expanded in 2004 to include probing the alleged role of Modi, the NGO’s plea for summoning of him was rejected by the panel in September 2009.
The NGO had unsuccessfully moved the HC, where a single-judge bench and a division bench rejected its plea. The state had opposed the petition questioning Patel’s locus standi on the ground that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, no third party could be permitted to raise demand for questioning any person.
Interestingly, a threejudge bench headed by justice Jain had recently referred the report of the special investigation team, which had investigated under apex court’s monitoring the alleged role of Modi in the riots, to the trial court.
The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) had earlier questioned Modi in 2010. In November 2009, the NGO had moved the high court for quashing of the order but a bench of Justice K S Jhaveri had dismissed its plea terming it as “premature”.
In 2010, JSM filed an appeal before the HC division bench against the singlejudge order.
Mukul Sinha, counsel for JSM, had argued that summoning Modi and others was required for collecting evidence. .
The state government had opposed JSM’s plea contending that the NGO had no locus standi to seek summoning of Modi. It had submitted that the appeal is not maintainable under law as the Commission’s Act does not allow any third party to demand for questioning of any person, and that it is for the Commission to decide whom it should call for questioning.

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