Nanavati panel reserves order on calling Modi for cross examination

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Ahmedabad, Feb 27 (UNI) The Nanavati-Shah Commission, probing the Godhra train carnage and the widespread riots in its aftermath, today reserved its order on whether to summon Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and six others for cross examination.

A non-governmental organisation, Jansangharsh Manch, had petitioned before the Commission that the Gujarat Chief Minister and the others be summoned and cross-examined.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the Commission decided to reserve its order. The two-member Commission is headed by Justice G T Nanavati and has Justice K G Shah as member. The Commission has not specified as to when it will issue an order.

The Jansangharsh Manch has demanded that Mr Modi and the others be summoned for cross examination since a CBI officer, Rahul Sharma, has placed before the Commission a compact disc that allegedly contains records of phone calls made by high officials and people in power at the height of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Among the others who the Jansangharsh Manch wants to be summoned is the then state Home Minister Gordhan Zadaphia. The Manch has claimed that Mr Sharma's CD indicates that Mr Zadaphia had made frequent calls to one of the riot accused on the day of rioting.

Government counsel Tehtman Nanavati has, however, questioned the authenticity of the CD submitted by Mr Sharma before the Commission.

Mr Sharma, in his in-camera deposition before the Commission, has admitted that upon gaining possession of the CD, he had taken it to his house and transferred the data into his computer for processing.

The government counsel argued that there was no way to cross-check the originality of data since the CD submitted by Mr Sharma to the Commission was not the original one but a copy. There is every likelihood that the CD might have been tampered with and, so, its authenticity was doubtful, Adv Tehtman has argued.

After Mr Sharma placed the CD before the Commission, the Jansangharsh Manch, and also the Congress party here, had moved an application on August 31 last year urging the Commission to summon Mr Modi, Mr Zadaphia, and then Health Minister Ashok Bhatt, along with few other high officials in the state secretariat for cross examination.

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