Thursday, May 3, 2012

Godhra: Bhatt seeks two-judge inquiry panel on Modi's role


Manas Dasgupta
The suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has requested President Pratibha Patil to direct the Central government to set up a two-member inquiry commission to inquire into the role and conduct of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other Ministers and the adequacy of the administrative measures taken to deal with the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage in the State in 2002.

In a letter to Ms. Patil released here on Saturday, Mr. Bhatt said the commission should be set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, and be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. He said the commission should also inquire into the adequacy of the steps and measures taken by the State administration from June 1, 2002, till date for the relief, rehabilitation and delivery of justice to the victims of the riots.

Without mentioning his dissatisfaction over the manner in which the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission was handling the probe into the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra riots in the State, Mr. Bhatt said appointment of an inquiry commission was necessary as the existing panel was not dealing with the “adequacy of the administrative measures” to find out whether the State had performed its duty properly to protect the fundamental rights of the people.

Mr. Bhatt claimed that while issuing the notification on July 20, 2004, expanding the scope of the Nanavati-Mehta commission set up in March 2002, the State government had deliberately avoided including the Chief Minister's role in relation to the adequacy of the administrative measures taken in dealing with the riots.

The amended notification did include the role and conduct of the Chief Minister and other Ministers, senior bureaucrats and police officers and some political, religious and voluntary organisations, but the clause was deliberately inserted after the para in the original notification in which the terms and reference of the Nanavati commission included inquiring into the “adequacy of the administrative measures.”

Mr. Bhatt said besides the fact that the State government was thwarting all efforts of the inquiry commission to even summon the Chief Minister for cross-examination, the National Human Rights Commission in its report and the Gujarat High Court in connection with a petition seeking its direction to the commission to summon Mr. Modi, had made adverse remarks about the adequacy of the administrative measures taken to protect the rights of the minorities.
Mr. Bhatt said even after the deficient terms of reference, the State government should have discharged its constitutional obligation diligently and honestly assisting the inquiry commission in unearthing the truth, but instead of conducting itself as a neutral and dispassionate constitutional entity, it had “chosen to act in a partisan manner by identifying with and espousing the cause of the State administration.