Tuesday, July 17, 2012

State defends Nanavati panel’s extensions

Opposing a public interest litigation (PIL) that challenged the latest extension granted to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission, the state government submitted an affidavit to the Gujarat High Court on Thurday.
The affidavit was filed in connection to the PIL moved by Jignesh Goswami which challenged the government’s decision to grant an extension to the Commission till December 31, 2012. The petitioner had said that even after 10 years and the huge expenses incurred, the Commission has not been able to submit its final report.
The affidavit was produced before a division bench of the HC comprising of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala by Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, according to Under Secretary Home Department Pankaj Dave.
Elaborating on the “mammoth” task undertaken by the Commission, the affidavit the affidavit stated “the Commission had permitted several interested parties to participate in the proceedings before it and has been continuing with the proceedings. It has examined hundreds of witnesses and received thousands of documents and affidavits. Looking at the voluminous evidence received by the Commission, it is clear that the task of the Commission is mammoth,” the affidavit stated.
According to the affidavit, the Commission had received 47,321affidavits/applications/information, heard seven parties, examined 1,035 witnesses and conducted 281 public hearings in 22 districts of Gujarat. It also stated that the Commission is inquiring into 6,294 criminal cases registered across the state after the Godhra train carnage and the 2002 communal riots.
“It was in view of the aforesaid voluminous nature of the inquiry by the Commission, that the extensions have been provided for the report,” Dave said in his affidavit on behalf of the state government.
The affidavit also stated that the Commission had sought material from the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). However the SIT had refused to do so and had sought clarification from the apex court over the issue since the court had ordered that the SIT submit its investigation reports only before the court that has the jurisdiction over the concerned case.
The apex court is yet to pass any order over the issue.
Requesting to dismiss the petition, the state government also asserted that, “except for terms of reference, which the State Government fixes, it may not be in a position to fix a definite deadline for the Commission as it is totally independent and it is not within the purview (of the state government) to comment in this regard.”
Meanwhile, the petitioner’s advocate objected to the Advocate General presenting the case of both the state government and the Commission and demanded that the Commission itself “enlighten” the court over the issue. The court has fixed the case for further hearing after a fortnight.