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SC slams Guj Govt for conducting shoddy probe into riots

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov 22 (UNI) The Supreme Court today asserted that it was powerless when the state machinery was conducting a shoddy investigation into a large number of Gujarat communal riots cases in order to shield the culprits, but at the same time it held itself ''duty-bound to ensure justice''.

Justice K G Balakrishnan, heading a three-judge bench, was responding to the contention of the Gujarat government that a PIL in a criminal case was totally foreign as per the judgement of the apex court in the fodder scam case.

The court, while fixing February 20 as the next date of hearing, directed amicus curiae senior counsel Harish Salve to prepare a brief note of eight major incidents of riots in which 17 FIRs have been registered.

The court also directed to file brief notes of 1,900 cases in which closure reports filed by the Gujarat police have been found wrong by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee.

The Court, however, delinked three transfer petitions seeking the transfer of three suits for damages outside the state in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been made defendant number one and fixed December 4 for consideration of three transfer petitions, which have been filed by the widows of those killed during riots seeking damage to the tune of Rs 26 crore.

The Gujarat government had earlier challenged the locus standi of the petitioner who were neither family members nor relatives of the victims and said petitions filed by third party under the garb of PIL are not maintainable, and therfore the same should be dismissed.

The court, however, was not inclined to agree with the contention raised by the state in its application and made it clear that if there is failure on the part of the state to rule in accordanace with the law then it cannot remain a mute spectator.

The court had earlier directed an additional district and sessions judge of Delhi to submit a report regarding 1,950 cases in which Gujarat police filed closure reports which were accepted by the judge without application of mind.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is one of the petitioners seeking transfer of trial of criminal cases outside Gujarat.

According to the Gujarat government, once the investigation is complete and a chargesheet has been filed this court can not interfere.

The court will decide the legal issues regarding maintainability of the petitions first. The hearing will take place on February 20, 21 and 22 next year.

The SC will then also consider the issue of the protection of the witnesses.

UNI AKS/SC SI RP BS1332

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