Rebel IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has secured permission from the Gujarat High Court to inspect some of the official documents relating to the 2002 communal clashes in Gujarat, before submitting his final affidavit before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission probing into the Godhra train carnage and the subsequent violence.
A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, has directed the Nanavati-Mehta Commission to allow Mr. Bhatt, who was posted in the State Intelligence Bureau during the relevant period, to inspect the documents he required to help him to file his detailed affidavit.
The Division Bench, however, did not allow Mr. Bhatt’s prayers for directing the commission to summon Chief Minister Narendra Modi for cross-examination and directing the commission to submit its final report to the Governor instead of the State government.
The Bench said that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the commission was free to make its own rules to conduct the investigation in the manner it thought fit, and the High Court had no jurisdiction to issue it directives to conduct the inquiry in a particular way or to submit its report to a specific authority.
Mr. Bhatt, whose affidavit before the Supreme Court, accusing Mr. Modi and some others of involvement in the 2002 clashes, created a furore and led to his suspension, though on different grounds. He had been fighting a legal battle for the last couple of years, after the commission refused to issue a direction to the State government to provide him copies of some official documents, including records of the State Intelligence Bureau, for inspection to help him to file his final affidavit.
Mr. Bhatt, in his earlier petition before the commission, claimed that he personally was in direct touch with the Chief Minister then, and was providing him information on the developments in Gulberg Society and some other violence-affected areas, but Mr. Modi refused to take any step to stop the mayhem. The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, after inspecting the available documents, however, claimed that official records did not support Mr. Bhatt’s claims, and issued the Chief Minister a clean chit.
The State government, initially, claimed that some of the official documents relating to the 2002 clashes had been “destroyed” in 2007.