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SC okays Guj HC order declaring Banerjee committee illegal

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, July 3 (UNI) The Supreme Court today refused to stay the order of Gujarat High Court declaring as illegal the appointment of Justice U C Banerjee Committee set up by the Centre to inquire into the Godhra train fire in which 56 Kar sevaks were charred to death on February 27, 2002.

The High Court on March 20 had also restrained the Centre from placing the report before the Parliament for discussion.

A bench comprising Justices K G Balakrishnan and D K Jain, however, isssued notices on the appeal filed by the Centre to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Law Ministry, Justice Banerjee Commission, Justice Nanavati Commission, State of Gujarat, Nilkanth Tulsidas Bhatia, Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety, Western Region and Commissoner of Railway Safety, Western region.

The Union Government has challenged the High Court order contending that the impugned order was violative of the basic structure of the constitution and is contrary to 'the doctrine of separation of powers'.

The Centre has also contended that the terms of reference of the Commissions of Inquiry are not overlapping, hence the appointment of the Justice Banerjee Commission by the Centre is not illegal.

The Gujarat government had appointed Justice G T Nanavati, retired judge of Supreme Court, as the chairman of the inquiry commission on May 21, 2002. Nanavati commission was also entrusted with the task of looking into the role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, State bureaucrats and senior police officials during the communal violence which had rocked the state in the aftermath of Godhra incident.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, however, appointed Justice U C Banerjee as the chairman of another judicial inquiry commission to inquire into the cause of Godhra train burning incident which led to widespread communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 and left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. Justice U C Banerjee submitted interim report on January 17, 2005.

The appointment of Justice U C Banerjee commission was challenged in the High court.

The Supreme Court was told that the matter is already fixed for final disposal with the High Court and the grant of any interim relief at this stage shall render the petition pending in High Court infructuose.


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