Nanavati panel’s future bleak after HC rap

With the Gujarat High Court knocking off the very foundation of the Nanavati commission by ruling that POTA did not apply to the Godhra accused,questions are being raised about its future.

Written by Syed Khalique Ahmed | Ahmedabad | Published: February 16, 2009 3:27:26 am

Court dismissed the ‘conspiracy theory’ in the Godhra carnage episode and also lifted POTA charges

With the Gujarat High Court knocking off the very foundation of the Nanavati commission by ruling that POTA did not apply to the Godhra accused,questions are being raised about its future.

The commission has not met even once in the last six months owing to its boycott by senior lawyer and Jan Sangharsh Manch representative Mukul Sinha after Justice (retired) Akshay Mehta was appointed to the commission. Now,lawyers and political activists have started demanding that the commission be disbanded,as it has lost relevance.

After a division bench of Justice Bhagwati Prasad and Justice Bankim Mehta delivered the judgment,senior advocate Girish Patel said there is no raison d’etre for the commission to exist. The high court dismissed the ‘conspiracy theory’ and lifted POTA,which was slapped by the investigating agency and subsequently justified by the Nanavati commission in its Part I report on the Godhra carnage.

“With the court rejecting the conspiracy theory on the basis of which (Narendra) Modi furthered his political career and tried to seek justification for the post-Godhra riots,people now doubt the relevance of the commissions and integrity of the retired judges heading these commissions,” said Patel. He added that justices (retired) G T Nanavati and Akshay Mehta must resign on moral grounds.

Echoing the views of Patel,senior advocate Mukul Sinha said,”There is no necessity of the commission after the high court ruling,which is binding on the state government and investigating agencies.”

Former president of the Ahmedabad Criminal Court Bar Association Hiralal Gupta,who had also represented before the Nanavati commission,said the court had in fact upheld the three chargesheets filed in the Godhra case by former Deputy Superintendent of Police K C Bawa,who had not found any evidence for applying POTA.

“POTA was applied after the government appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the then DIG (railways and crime) Rakesh Asthana,with J K Bhatt and Noel Parmar,” said Gupta.

While Justice (retired) G T Nanavati cound not be contacted,Justice (retired) Akshay Mehta said,”What we have concluded is on the basis of evidence placed before us. But I don’t know what materials were placed before the bench that it took a different decision,” said Mehta. However,he clarified that the commission was a fact-finding body enjoying a lot of flexibility and did not have to go through the compliance and formalities of a trial court.

As for the need to continue or disband the commission,he said,”It is for the government to decide. If it feels the commission is no longer required,it can disband it.”

Senior advocate Shaktisinh Gohil,who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly,said,”With the high court telling the truth,there is no need for the commission to continue. With the commission favouring the government in its Part I report and giving a clean chit to Modi and his ministers,we can’t expect anything contrary from it even in the second part.” He also demanded the closure of the commission and saving public money from being spent on a “useless exercise”.

However,president of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association,Yatin Oza,differed from his colleagues,saying the court had only rejected the ‘conspiracy theory’ and not the investigation per se. “Moreover,the commission must be allowed to complete its task,as it has been probing the causes of Godhra and post-Godhra incidents,” Oza added.

The BJP and Mahagujarat Janata Party (MJP) refused to comment on the issue. “It is a legal matter and I can’t comment on it,said BJP state president Purushottam Rupala.

For all the latest Ahmedabad News, download Indian Express App