Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to restrain the Gujarat government from implementing, circulating or acting on the Justice Nanavati Commission report on the Godhra train carnage.

A Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam, however, asked the Gujarat government to respond to a petition, filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace, seeking a stay on circulation of the report on the ground that the Commission was not authorised to give its report in parts.

The Chief Justice told senior counsel Rajinder Sachar, appearing for the NGO, that under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, there was no bar on the commission giving a preliminary report or making some recommendations.

“The report is only a recommendation. The government may or may not act on it. What is your apprehension?”

Mr. Sachar, however, said the commission could not give a preliminary report and the government could only place an action taken report in the Assembly. If the report was circulated it would hurt communal harmony.

Senior counsel Soli Sorabjee, appearing for Gujarat, said the report was already placed in the Assembly and House accepted it.

There were no recommendations in the preliminary report.

The Chief Justice told Mr. Sachar that the court would consider the petitioner’s grievances only after getting the response from the government, and granted three weeks to Gujarat for filing its response to the SLP, which is directed against a High Court order refusing to restrain the government from placing the report in the Assembly.

In their SLP, the petitioners said tabling one part of the Nanavati report and making it public were detrimental to the public interest.

They questioned the commission’s action in withholding the report on the dubious role of the State government in supporting the accused involved in a mass carnage of the minority community. They sought quashing the impugned judgment and an interim direction to restrain the State government from publishing or acting on the report.