The state government has granted extension to the judicial inquiry commission probing the alleged Naliya gangrape case in which a 34-year-old woman from Kothara village of Abdasa taluka in Kutch district was allegedly raped by several persons, including some office bearers of the ruling BJP.
The government has set September 30 as the new deadline for the commission, led by retired Gujarat High Court judge Justice A L Dave, to submit its report. This is the first extension granted to the probe panel, after it was instituted by the government in March last year. The commission was asked to submit its report, “…as soon as possible, but not later than three months from the date of its first sitting”.
A trial in the alleged gangrape case is currently going on in Kutch district court. Since its constitution under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, the commission has not held a single public hearing till date. Two public advertisements seeking information on affidavit regarding the incident also did not evoke any response. So far, the commission has received only one representation. The Forum of Concerned Citizens on Naliya Incident, led by women activists like Zarna Pathak and Meenakshi Joshi of Ahmedabad, had moved an application to the commission for examining all the police officers involved in the investigation of the case.
“One of the terms of reference of the commission is to probe into the possible lapses on the part of police while investigating the case. So, we have moved an application to examine all the police officers who have been involved in the investigation of the case. At the same time, we have also requested the commission to examine all these police officers after the trial gets over in the Kutch court, so that parallel proceedings do not prejudice the case. The Commission is likely to decide on this request appropriately,” advocate Rahul Sharma, representing the forum, told The Indian Express.
A brief hearing on the forum’s application was held on June 11. The order of the commission on the application is pending. In January last year, a woman from Mumbai filed a complaint at Naliya police station in Abdasa taluka of Kutch district alleging that she was gangraped for over a year, between August 2015 and November 2016.
Two days later, police registered an FIR, and booked 10 persons for gangrape, molestation, kidnapping and wrongful confinement. They included then convener of BJP’s Abdasa taluka OBC cell Shantilal Solanki, BJP’s Gandhidham unit secretary Govind Parumalani, then BJP councillors of Gandhidham municipality Vasant Bhanushali and Ajit Ramwani among others.
Following protests from the Opposition Congress, the BJP suspended all the four — Solanki, Parumalani, Bhanushali and Ramwani — from the primary membership of the party. The other six accused are Babba Lohana of Naliya, Bharat Darji, Vipul Thakkar, Chetan Thakkar, Atul Thakkar and Ashwin Thakkar of Nakhtrana.