The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation petition seeking quashing of the report of justice (retd) Vishnu Sahai Commission on Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013 and a CBI probe into it.
“The writ petition sans merit and is hereby rejected”, a division bench of justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and justice Attau Rahman Masoodi said.
The order came on a PIL filed by a local journalist Allama Zamir Naqvi, General Secretary of All India Muslim Council.
The petitioner had sought a direction for quashing the report of the Commission that was appointed by Uttar Pradesh government to inquire, investigate and report on the Muzaffarnagar communal riots.
The main ground of challenge was to the eligibility of Justice Vishnu Sahai, a retired Judge and former acting Chief Justice of the Allahabad high court, to chair the Commission due to the alleged disability under section 24(3) of Protection of Human Rights Act,1993.
The petitioner’s counsel Ashok Pandey urged that Justice Vishnu Sahai, who was a former member of UP Human Rights Commission (UPHRC), was ineligible for further employment under the state or central government.
Therefore, the entire exercise undertaken by him to inquireinto the Muzaffarnagar riots was without any authority.
He further submitted that consequently, the report and its acceptance were illegal and therefore, the state government should be directed to appoint some other judge to head the Commission and to probe the riots or in the alternatve direct CBI to investigate the role of politicians and bureaucrats allegedly involved in the riots.
The petition was opposed by the state contending that not only the inquiry was over and the report submitted but the same had also been accepted by both the Houses of the state Legislature and consequently, the Commission having became functus officio, and any challenge raised to it should not be entertained at this stage.
It was also contended that the appointment of the Commission was made more than three years ago and no challenge having been raised and the Commission having completed its inquiry, the petition also suffers from laches (unreasonable delay in making an assertion or claim) and lack of bona fide.
Hence, it was liable to be dismissed.
After hearing the counsel for the two sides, the HC said that “the challenges raised at this belated stage to the eligibility of the Chairperson of the Commission does not deserve to be entertained.”
Regarding the plea for a CBI probe, the High Court said that in the absence of any proper material on record this relief cannot be considered in the wake of lack of essentials.
With these observations, the High Court dismissed the PIL.