The Supreme Court, on Monday, sought to know the stand of Nanavati commission and the Gujarat government, on a petition seeking direction to the commission to summon Chief Minister Narendra Modi for questioning in connection with the 2002 riots.
The bench comprising of Justice DK Jain and Justice AK Dave issued notices to the commission and the state government, asking them to file their responses within four weeks.
The court issued the notices on a plea filed by the NGO, Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), seeking direction to the Nanavati commission to call Modi for questioning. Earlier, the Gujarat high court had dismissed the NGO's plea.
Advocates Collin Gonsalves and Shreeji Bhavsar, who appeared for the NGO, submitted that Modi should be summoned by the commission as the role of the chief minister falls within the ambit of the probe panel's frame of reference.
The Nanavati commission was set up in 2002 to enquire into the Godhra train carnage and the subsequent communal riots across the state. In 2004, the terms of reference of the commission were expanded to include within its purview an examination of the chief minster's role in the communal violence.
The JSM had filed the plea first before the commission itself in 2007 but, in September 2009, the commission rejected its plea. In November 2009, the NGO had moved the high court for quashing of the order but a bench of Justice KS Jhaveri had dismissed its plea terming it as 'premature'.
In 2010, the JSM filed an appeal before the high court's division bench against the single judge order. Mukul Sinha, counsel for JSM, had argued that summoning Modi and others was required for collecting evidence about the Godhra train burning incident and the riots.
The state government had opposed the JSM's plea contending that the NGO had no locus standi to seek summoning of Modi. It had submitted that the NGO's petition was not maintainable under law as the Commission of Enquiries Act does not allow any third party to demand summoning of any person against the wishes of the probe panel. The high court said it was for the commission to decide whom it should call for questioning.
The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) had questioned Modi in this connection for over ten hours in 2010.