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Naroda Gam riot case: In middle of trial, a ‘smile, scoff’ grab attention

Court rules that ex-IPS officer’s facial expression didn’t amount to contempt of court

Written by Satish Jha | Ahmedabad |
Updated: April 12, 2018 10:28:27 am
Naroda Gam riot case: In middle of trial, a ‘smile, scoff’ grab attention IPS officer Rahul Sharma who took early retirement filed enrollment with Bar Council of Gujarat to start legal practice in Ahmedabad on Saturday. (Express photo by Javed Raja)

A special designated court, which is hearing the 2002 post-Godhra Naroda Gam massacre case, on Monday granted relief to former IPS officer Rahul Sharma, against whom a petition has been moved to make him an accused in the case, after defence advocate Chetan Shah objected to Sharma’s “smiling and thereby scoffing” when the court posed a query to Shah.

Judge M K Dave ruled that “such incidents are a common phenomenon” in court proceedings and doesn’t amount to contempt of court.

The defence advocate, who represents all the accused except former minister Maya Kodnani in the riots case, had moved an application, complaining that “Sharma was smiling and was thereby scoffing during the course of arguments… and by his such conduct, he has not observed the decorum of the court”.

Sharma, however, denied Shah’s allegation. The assistant special public prosecutor also told the court that no such incident happened.

Judge Dave, later, observed, “It would be worthwhile to note here that during the course of arguments… Shah was posed with a legal query by this court, which in the opinion of this court, Rahul Sharma might have taken in his favour presumably, and therefore, if at all any smile on his face followed as a natural consequence thereof, it cannot be termed or treated as disturbing the decorum of the court or with a view to scoff the advocate for the defence.”

Eleven Muslims were killed in Naroda Gam on February 28, 2002 during the post-Godhra riots. A total of 82 accused, including former minister Kodnani, former Bajrang Dal chief Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi, are facing trial.

Three years ago, the defence had moved an application to make former IPS officer Sharma and former investigating officer P K Mal, currently Superintendent of Police of Bhavnagar, accused in the case for destroying evidence.

Originally, the prosecution has cited Sharma as a witness, but the accused want him to be arraigned as accused for allegedly destroying the CDs of call detail records (CDRs) which he had collected while assisting the Detection of Crime Branch (Ahmedabad) in the investigation into riots cases for a brief period in 2002. The call data records contain physical location of VIP movements at the time of the 2002 riots.

On Wednesday, Sharma again appeared for the hearing and told the court that the then DCP A K Surolia, now DGP (ATS), had given the idea of collecting CDRs from two private telephone companies. According to Sharma, he procured the CDRs and sent it to then superior officers, including PP Pandey.

Sharma said that he had copied the CDs containing the CDR in his private computer. “For next two years, I didn’t hear anything about these CDs and not even IO Chudasama made any effort to procure it. Had I not submitted these CDRs to the Nanavati Commission (which probed the riots case) no one would have come to know about its existence,” Sharma told the court.

The court will hear the further arguments on Monday.

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