Nachiketa Desai

| @ | September 7,2019

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ESPONDING to a Public Interest Litigation filed by former Director General of Police R B Sreekumar in the Gujarat High Cour the state government on Friday assured that it will table part two of the justice Nanavati-Mehta Commission report on the 2002 Gujarat riots before the Legislative Assembly in the budget session.

The Gujarat government has been sitting on the second part of the Justice Nanavati-Mehta commission report for over five years. The commission was set up to inquire into the large-scale violence that took place in the state in the wake of the burning of a train coach at Godhra killing 59 activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad returning from Ayodhya.

While the government tabled the first part of the commission report before the state assembly on September 25, 2009, it has been sitting on the second part prompting former IPS officer RB Sreekumar to file an PIL in the High court seeking the state government to make the report public.

Responding the high court notice to the government, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi told a division bench of justices SR Brahmbhatt and AP Thaker that the government had decided to table part two of the report “in the ensuing budget session of the Legislative Assembly”.

“While categorically denying all the allegations made in the petition, it is stated that part-I of the report of Justice Nanavati-Mehta Commission has already been tabled on September 25, 2009 in the Assembly,” it said.

The commission had submitted its final report (containing part two) on November 18, 2014, to then chief minister Anandiben Patel. It has been withheld since.

Last month, Sreekumar moved the high court “against inaction on the part of the state of Gujarat, especially the chief secretary” in not tabling the full report before the assembly.

He cited section 3 (4) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, saying the law requires that such reports have to be published within six months.

Then CM Narendra Modi had announced on February 28, 2002 a one-man commission to inquire into the cause of the Godhra train burning incident. The train burning incident led to widespread violence in Gujarat resulting in the killing of over 2000 people, mostly Muslims.

The government later reconstituted the commission, making it two-member, with Justice GT Nanavati, former SC judge, as its chairman and Justice KG Shah, a former HC judge. After Shah passed away, Justice A K Mehta, also a former high court judge, took his place.

The government also expanded the terms of reference of the commission, bringing under its purview the role and conduct of the chief minister, ministers and police officers during the riots.

During his deposition before the commission, senior IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt had alleged that as the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi had called a meeting of police and civil officers on February 28, 2008 in which he told them not to take action against Hindu mobs attacking Muslims to take revenge for the Godhra train burning incident.

Sanjiv Bhatt, posted with the state intelligence bureau at the time of the Godhra incident, had stated before the commission that he was present in the meeting in which Narendra Modi gave such instruction to the top police and administrative officers.

Sanjiv Bhatt was suspended for taking ‘unauthorised’ leave and using his official vehicle to come to Ahmedabad from Junagadh to depose before the commission. Subsequently, a case was also filed by his driver against Sanjiv Bhatt alleging wrongful confinement and coercion to make him sign a statement that he had driven him to Gandhinagar for the chief minister’s meeting.

The state government had denied the presence of Sanjiv Bhatt in the meeting called by the chief minister.

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