In a reprieve for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected a petition for summoning him to the Nanavati Commission for questioning in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, observing there was no substance in the plea.
A division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani while dismissing the application of NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch (JSM) said the Commission that is probing the riots has larger discretionary powers to summon witnesses. JSM's lawyer Mukul Sinha said they will approach the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
"The High Court has held that it is at the discretion of the Commission to allow or disallow cross-examination." he said. JSM, representing some riot victims, had approached the High Court for directing the Commission to call Modi for questioning after the Commission of Justice G T Nanavati and Justice Akshay Mehta had rejected it's plea to summon him.
BJP welcomed the HC order saying Modi stands vindicated.
"It(order) once again showed that there is no material on record as of now against the Chief Minister for the events (riots) to take place," BJP leader and lawyer Devang Nanavati said.
"The Chief Minister stands vindicated," he said.
Reacting to the verdict, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid spoke against mixing legal and political issues.
He said the matters should be either left to the court or they be settled politically. Sinha had submitted in the court that Modi should be summoned by the Commission as the role of the Chief Minister fell within the ambit of its inquiry. There are many questions related to riots that can be answered only by the Chief Minister, he said.
How will the truth come out if there is no examination or cross-examination, Sinha asked.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, appearing for the state government, had submitted that the appeal is not maintainable under law as the Commission's Act does not allow any third party to demand for questioning of any person.
Trivedi said it is for the Commission to decide whom it should call for questioning.