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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Gujarat 2002 riots: Taluka court drops PM Modi’s name from three riots suits

The order also noted that the victims' relatives had in no way stated as to how Narendra Modi "is personally liable for the alleged acts or omissions of officials" of the then state government.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: September 6, 2020 2:40:38 pm
15 booked for rioting, burning PM Modi's effigy on his birthdayPrime Minister Narendra Modi

A taluka court in the district of Sabarkantha on Saturday directed that the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi be removed as respondent from three civil suits moved by relatives of victims of 2002 riots, following an application moved by the advocate representing Modi.

Principal senior civil judge S K Gadhvi at the Prantij court arrived at this decision to remove Modi as a defendant in the three suits, broadly on the ground that according to the court, the plaintiff was attempting to drag on the case and that the plaintiff relied on “allegations only general, non specific and vague” against Modi and no material was brought to establish that the then Gujarat chief minister Modi was present at the site of offence.

The civil suits for compensation were filed by kin of the victims, Shirin Dawood, Shamima Dawood (both British nationals) and Imran Salim Dawood.

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Apart from Modi, other defendants included as part of the suit include the six accused who were eventually acquitted by the special court as well as former home minister in Gujarat Gordhan Zadaphia, late DGP K Chakravarthi, former additional chief secretary at home department Ashok Narayan, late IPS officer Amitabh Pathak, then inspector D K Vanikar and the state government.

On February 28, 2002, British national Imran Dawood, then a boy of 18, had made his maiden visit to India along with his UK-based uncles -Saeed Dawood, Shakeel Dawood and Mohammed Aswat. The four had toured Jaipur and Agra, and were returning to their native village Lajpur near Prantij in Sabarkantha district where a mob blocked their way and set ablaze their Tata Sumo. Saeed and Aswat along with their Gujarati driver Yusuf Piraghar were hacked to death, while Shakeel went missing. It was presumed he died. The Prantij British nationals killing case is also distinct because it is probably the rare case where foreign diplomats had deposed as witnesses through video-conference.

In the order dated September 5, the taluka court noted that “there is not a single averment showing presence of defendant No.1 (Modi) at the scene of offence at the relevant time or his direct or indirect involvement in the alleged act or any specific role from which reasonable ground for malice or intentional acts or omissions can be found, entitling the plaintiff to claim any legal right or relief…”

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The order also noted that the victims’ relatives had in no way stated as to how Modi “is personally liable for the alleged acts or omissions of officials” of the then state government.

“The averments in the plaint are made cleverly to connect defendant No.1 (Modi) with all pre and post Godhra incidents and thereby to array defendant No.1 (Modi) as perpetrator of the crime making him liable for compensation…. In my view, such reckless allegations without any basis, i.e. evidence, can hardly establish any nexus or help in raising cause of action” against Modi.

Meanwhile, the application moved by Modi through his advocate S S Shah was vehemently opposed by Salim, son of the deceased UK national, on behalf of the three plaintiffs. Salim also submitted that his lawyer Anwar Malek had conveyed that he would be unable to continue to represent Dawood “due to targeted actions” faced by Malek.

Shah, representing Modi, had submitted that the litigation has been going on since 2004 with Modi as a party, when he was the chief minister, despite him being “neither necessary nor proper party to join” as a defendant party. Further it was submitted that Salim’s allegations and averments were “political” in nature, which had anyway been addressed in the Nanavati Commission inquiry.

The judge arrived at the conclusion that the plaintiffs are trying to delay the proceedings on the basis that Salim had contested the jurisdiction of the forum on which the suits are being decided.

The petitioners had sought Rs 22 crore as damages claimed alleging acts of commissions and omissions on the part of defendants including Modi.

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