Friday, November 16, 2012

Gujarat riots: NCM retreats on A-G advice PARUL CHANDRA

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has had to eat humble pie after it tried to overstep its jurisdiction and assume the role of an investigative body while dealing with the complaint of a 2002 Gujarat communal riots victim.
However, it was only after Attorney-General G.E.
Vahanvati’s advice on the matter that the NCM beat a hasty retreat and dismissed the complaint.
In its order last month, the NCM has had to admit that “the Commission does
not have jurisdiction to look into this matter in order to investigate it” with regard to the complaint made to it by Niyazbibi Bannumiyan Malek in February this year”.
Ironically, in March 2012 the NCM had declared that it was “competent and (it was) within its jurisdiction to take cognisance” of Ms Malek’s complaint. The Gujarat government, which was the respondent in the complaint, however, had contended that the NCM was overstepping its jurisdiction.

Ms Malek from Ognaz village in Gujarat had complained that her house was attacked by a mob, looted and destroyed during the 2002 riots. She also alleged that her family was forced to make a distress sale of the land it owned in the village. She also said that her attempts to register an FIR were “rebuffed”.
Mr Vahanvati, however, is learnt to have told the NCM that it is not a judicial or investigative body and can only take up issues concerning the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities. He also told the NCM that the complaint was seeking to convert the Commission into an inquisitorial forum which was not allowed. And this is what the NCM has said while dismissing Ms Malek’s complaint.
The A-G is also said to have told the Commission that it is “not a judicial or investigative body, nor does it have any judicial or coercive powers with regard to its functioning”.
Incidentally, Ms Malek’s complaint saw Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt too appearing before the Commission.
Mr Bhatt had submitted an application to the NCM stating that he was with the state Intelligence Bureau, Gandhinagar, when the “incident” occurred and that the state’s complicity in the 2002 violence cannot be ruled out.