Mukul Sinha, counsel for the Jan Sangharsh Manch, on Saturday said the arguments of the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial commission, probing the Godhra train carnage and subquent Gujarat communal riots in 2002, of lack of evidence for summoning Chief Minister Modi and others did not hold ground. For, the stage had not yet reached for submitting evidence, but at least cross-examining them was necessary to “arrive at the truth.”
Counsel said the application for summoning them was made only after the State government in July 2004 expanded the terms of reference of the commission to include the offices of Chief Minister, his Council of Ministers and senior bureaucrats and police officers to inquire into their “roles” in the riots.
If the collective opinion of the State government was that the role and conduct of these persons, including the Chief Minister, required to be looked into by a judicial inquiry commission, “there is no justification for the commission to refuse to do so,” Dr. Sinha said.
Dealing with the points raised by the Manch, alleging that prima facie Mr. Modi was in the “knowledge” of the riots, the commission said none of the arguments justified his summoning “at this stage.” These fell short of proving any direct or indirect involvement of the Chief Minister or dereliction of duty on his part or that of the State police and administration, of which he was the head.
CDs of phone numbers
The commission, however, has not rejected the authenticity of the two compact discs (CDs) containing the list of mobile phone numbers as demanded by the State government pleader. The order said though the government pleader wanted the data contained in the CDs to be “ignored completely” questioning their genuineness and authenticity, the commission had “not accepted the suggestion in toto” and though it did not “justify issuing summons to the persons,” the data “if found not manipulated, is likely to help this commission in finding out the truth about involvement of these persons in the incidents of violence against the minority community,” it said.
Pointing out that the State government had already placed before the commission relevant information through the affidavits of its officers, the commission said it was of the view that “only those persons against whom there is some material to show their involvement in the post-Godhra incidents should be summoned and that too at an appropriate stage.”