Mukul Sinha moved petition before Nanavati-Mehta panel to summon them in the 2002 riots cases

The Gujarat High Court on Friday reserved its judgment on whether Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others should be summoned for cross-examination by the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission probing the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra 2002 communal riots in the State. Mukul Sinha, counsel for the petitioner, had moved the application on behalf of the Jan Sangharsh Manch before the Nanavati-Mehta commission to summon the Chief Minister and a few others and sought to cross-examine them over their alleged role in the riots. After the plea was rejected, he moved the High Court.

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyaya, and Justice Akil Kureshi, reserved the judgment after hearing Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, and Dr. Sinha.

During the arguments, Mr. Trivedi opposed the plea, stating that the petitioners had no right to ask the commission to summon someone and seek their cross-examination under the Commission of Enquiries Act. Dr. Sinha on the other hand submitted that the government had made a reference to the commission under the Act to examine the code and conduct of people who may be involved in the case.

He stated that when the government had already made a reference, it could not turn around and deny the probe.

The court had earlier raised a query on its jurisdiction to entertain the plea. The court had asked both the parties whether it can direct a commission of inquiry while exercising the power under Article 226 of the Constitution.

In his reply, Dr. Sinha had submitted that the “commission of inquiry is a statutory body and is duty-bound to inquire upon the reference made to it in accordance with law.” He stated that when a grievance was raised, a court of law could decide and direct the commission “in an appropriate manner.”

Dr. Sinha told the court that questioning the Chief Minister and other Ministers and police personnel by the commission was essential as failing to do so would amount to negating the whole purpose of constituting the commission for making a public inquiry.