POTA cases pending in Gujarat to be withdrawn: SC

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New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) The Supreme Court today directed that all cases pending in POTA court, in connection with the 2002 Godhra train burning incident and Akshardham temple attack in Gujarat, shall stand automatically withdrawn in terms of the recommendations of POTA review committee appointed by the Union government.

The apex court also ruled that no prior permission of the courts concerned shall be required under section 321 of CrPC.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices R V Raveenrdran and Dalveer Bhandari, also upheld the constitutional validity of section 2 (3) of the Repealing Act.

The apex court, however, granted liberty to the kith and kins of the victims of these two attacks to challenge the recommendation of the POTA review committee in the High Court concerned under Article 226 of the Constitution if they feel aggrieved by the closure of the POTA cases against the accused.

The apex court, partly allowing the appeals of POTA case accused, also made it clear that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the cases of the POTA accused or in regards to the opinion expressed by the review committee.

Justice Bhandari wrote a separate but concurring judgement.

The CJI, writing judgement for himself and Justice Raveendran, ruled, ''We, therefore, hold that once the committee on review under section 2(3) of the Repealing Act, expresses the opinion that there is no prima facie case for proceeding against the accused, in cases in which cognizance has been taken by the court, such cases shall be deemed to have been withdrawn.

''The only role of the public prosecutor in the matter is to bring to the notice of the court, the direction of the review committee. The court, on satisfying itself as to whether such an opinion was rendered, will have to record that the case stands withdrawn by virtue of section 2(3) of the Repealing Act,'' the judgement said.

''The court will not examine the correctness or propriety of the opinion nor exercise any supervisory jurisdiction in regards to such an opinin of the review committee. But we make it clear that if the opinion of the review committee is challenged by any aggreived party in writ proceedings and is set aside, the court where the proceedings for sending, will comtinue with the case as if there has been no such opinion,'' it added.

Justice Bhandari, in his separate judgement, held ''the basic principle of separation of power is not violated. no provisions of the Constitution are violated by the Repealing Act passed by Parliament.'' Out of 134 accused in the case, 85 are still in jail, which include two juveniles.

More than 100 lives were lost in the two attacks and the public prosecutor of Gujarat was not filing an application in the POTA court for withdrawal of cases as per recommendations of the review committee.

Today's judgement is seen as a shot in the arm for UPA government at the Centre which has been backing the repeal of laws like POTA and TADA to deal with terrorist cases, while the BJP has suffered a setback as it has been advocating for such stringent laws for dealing with the menace of terrorism in the country.

UNI SC SKB SB KP1942

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