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Sibal's criticism of Nanavati panel insult to Supreme Court: Gujarat

Manas Dasgupta

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government on Thursday described Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal's criticism of the G. T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Enquiry Commission probing the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra communal riots in the State in 2002, as an “insult” to the Supreme Court and the judicial mechanism of the country.

Countering the Minister's adverse remarks, against the probe panel for the alleged delay in completing its task, made at a media conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, State Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said, the allegations made by Mr. Sibal, himself a senior advocate, amounted to questioning the credibility of the judiciary.

Giving details of the time taken by various probe panels during Congress rule, Mr. Vyas pointed out that Justice Marwah Commission and Mishra Commission probing the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 during the Congress rule in Delhi took 13 to 17 years to come up with the report. Proceedings of the Commission looking into the Bhagalpur riots of 1989 went on for 21 years and yet trials were still pending for 26 cases which were reopened in 2006. “The Commission which was examining the Mumbai riots of 1992 spent 14 to 19 years in hearings while the Commission probing the Rajiv Gandhi assassination took years to come up with its report.” There were many others like the Reddy Commission probing the 1969 communal riots that dragged on for years on end, he pointed out.

“Not only that Union Minister's comments are unfair but it is also an insult to the Supreme Court, as the probe panels are being headed by retired judges of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Mr. Vyas said the Nanavati Commission was formed as per the recommendations of the Supreme Court and was the only Commission appointed by the State government which had taken even the Chief Minister and other Ministers under its ambit. In nine years, the Commission examined 44,445 affidavits, questioned more than 1,000 witnesses and in 2008 submitted the first part of its report. “It is incomprehensible that a senior advocate like Mr. Sibal should make such comment without even looking into the working of the Commission so far,” Mr. Vyas regretted.

Mr. Sibal described the proceedings of the Nanavati-Mehta commission to be “painfully slow” and regretted that it failed to show the “urgency and sensitivity” the communal riot cases and the victims “deserved.”

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