In a big relief to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition seeking direction to the Nanavati Commission to summon him regarding his alleged role in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The apex court also said that it would look into the plea whether report of the Special Investigating Team, appointed by it, could be given to Nanavati Commission, when told that the panel has issued notices to SIT officers who had investigated the riot cases.
A bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Anil R. Dave rejected the plea by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves for summoning Modi on the grounds that the court could not give any direction to the Nanavati Commission which was appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act.
“It is for the commission to devise its own procedure and decide whom it should summon for questioning in connection with its probe,” the court told Gonsalves.
The court dismissed as withdrawn a petition by Amrish N. Patel, of NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch, challenging the Gujarat High Court order upholding the Nanavati Commission’s order declining to summon Modi and others for questioning on their alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
It said that it “cannot decide the cases on the basis of personalities”.
“We are judging the report of the commission even before it is ready,” the apex court said, adding that if the court starts interfering at every stage of the functioning of the commission of inquiry, then the inquiry will never be complete.
As Gonsalves told the court that Nanavati Commission was about to complete its probe and submit report without summoning Modi, the court said: “We can’t interfere till the final report is submitted. It is open to Nanavati Commission to summon anyone. You wait for the final report.”
When counsel said that the Nanavati Commission has taken ten long years for its probe, the court observed: “How many buckets are full of commission of inquiry reports and no action has been taken on any of these reports.”
“We hear people talk of judicial over reach. If we interfere in this case it will be judicial over reach,” the court further added.
The high court by its Feb 1, 2012, order had rejected the plea by the JSM, representing riot victims and had said that it was up to the panel whether it wished to summon a person or not.
Nanavati Commission, while rejecting the JSM plea to summon Modi and others, had held that “there exists no material to summon the chief minister and other persons perverse and utterly contrary to the record?”
Set up in 2002, the Nanavati Commission is probing the 2002 Gujarat riots that engulfed the state in the wake of the Godhra train carnage in which 59 Kar Sevaks coming from Ayodhya were burnt to death in a fire in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express.
The SIT was set up in 2008 and had submitted its report in 2011.