The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to clarify the nature of deposition made by the former Minister of State for Home, Gordhan Jhadaphia before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission.
He was questioned in camera last month by the commission, probing the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra communal riots.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyaya and Justice Akil Kureshi gave the direction after Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi said he was not aware under what provisions the commission had summoned the then junior Home Minister.
The court sought to know from the State whether he was summoned as a witness or under Section 8(b) of the Commission of Inquiries Act, under which the commission could call a person for deposition if it has found some material against the person and seek clarifications.
If Mr. Jhadaphia was called as a witness, the Jan Sangharsh Manch, representing riot victims, would also have the right to cross-examine him. If he was summoned under Section 8 (b), then the Manch would not have this right, the court said.
Its advocate Mukul Sinha — who earlier submitted an application before the commission for summoning seven prominent persons including Mr. Jhadaphia for cross-examination — said the Manch had the right to know the nature of Mr. Jhadaphia's deposition.
Mr. Sinha said the commission had rejected the Manch's application for summoning Mr. Jhadaphia but later on its own summoned him without the knowledge of the Manch.
Mr. Jhadaphia was earlier questioned by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) also in connection with the riots, but what transpired during the questioning was not known.
Meanwhile, the special CBI court gave permission to the High Court-appointed SIT to question the former State Anti-Terrorist Squad chief, D.G. Vanzara, and the former Deputy Superintendent of Police, Narendra Amin, in the case of alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan.
Mr. Vanzara and Mr. Amin, now in the Sabarmati Central Jail in the Sohrabuddin-Kausarbi murder case, were also suspected to have been involved in the Ishrat case. Mr. Vanzara was heading the ATS both during the Ishrat encounter in 2004 and the Sohrabuddin encounter a year later.