In a reprieve for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Gujarat High Court Wednesday rejected a petition seeking his deposition before the Nanavati-Mehta commission probing the 2002 communal riots in the state.
“The court has dismissed the appeal filed by NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch challenging the order of the commission on the ground that the commission has rightly exercised its discretion,” Gujarat government counsel Devang Nanavati said.
“The commission’s order giving reasons for the discretion has been upheld and vindicated by the Gujarat High Court. So certainly, Modi’s stand has been vindicated,” he added.
The Jan Sangharsh Manch, which is representing the riot victims, had filed the petition after the commission rejected its application seeking Modi’s deposition.
The NGO said it will now move the Supreme Court.
“We will move the apex court on this issue. The state government had itself asked the commission to inquire into Modi’s role in the riots. It is only proper that Modi should have deposed before the commission,” said lawyer and activist, Mukul Sinha, who filed the petition.
The Gujarat government had set up a commission of enquiry headed by retired high court judge K.G. Shah on March 6, 2002 to enquire into the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence and submit a report in three months. On May 22, 2002, the state government reconstituted the commission under retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavati.
Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in violent clashes after the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying kar sevaks returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya was torched at Godhra railway station on Feb 27, 2002.