More than three months after the Gujarat Government announced the appointment of retired High Court judge Justice A L Dave as head of a judicial commission to inquire into the Naliya gangrape case in which several now-suspended BJP members are accused, the panel is yet to start functioning.
Announcement of the Commission was made by Minister of State for Law and Justice (independent charge) Pradeepsinh Jadeja in the Assembly on March 17 during the Budget session of the House. The announcement had come when the Opposition Congress was strongly raising the issue and disrupting the House proceedings over it. At that time, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had given assurance to the Opposition from the floor of the House that a judicial inquiry will be ordered in the case. And subsequently, a judicial commission was formally announced with Justice Dave as its head to inquire into the matter. However, till date, the commission has not started functioning, probably over the issue of place from where it will function.
When contacted, Jadeja said, “There were some issues of the place from where the commission will function. But, those issues were sorted out. And, I think it must have started functioning. I have not taken update on the matter for the past one month. So, people from the Home (department) will be having exact idea.” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) M S Dagur, meanwhile, said, “There were some issues of infrastructure. And we have provided it to the commission and it will start functioning soon.” Dagur did not answer further queries on the subject, citing his preoccupation in a meeting.
The Naliya gangrape case that came to light in January this year caused a major embarrassment to ruling BJP. A 34-year-old woman from Kothara village of Naliya taluka of Kutch district had accused several BJP members of raping her for more than one-and-a-half-years. Following the allegations, the BJP members were suspended. Opposition Congress and Patidar youth leader Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti had raised the issue across the state.
The Gujarat government had appointed a team of senior police officers of CID (Crime) to supervise investigation of the case. Out of the nine accused named in the case, eight were arrested and lodged at a jail in Bhuj. Identity of the ninth accused named in the FIR has yet not been ascertained. Trial of the case has already begun in Bhuj Sessions Court.