Nanavati Commission's term extended till December-end

The Gujarat Government was extended last time in December last and was to expire on March 31.

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Nanavati Commission's term extended till December-end

The Gujarat Government has extended, for the 18th time, the term of the Nanavati Commission that has been probing the 2002 riots by nine months till December 31, officials of the state legal department said today.

The term of the panel comprising retired Justice GT Nanavati and Akshay Justice Mehta was extended last time in December last and was to expire on March 31.

The commission has recently recorded statements of politicians like former minister IK Jadeja and former minister of state for home Gordhan Zadafia.

Last month, Gujarat High Court had rejected a petition seeking directions to the judicial panel to summon chief minister Narendra Modi for questioning in connection with the 2002 riots.

The Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) representing some riot victims, had approached the high court last year for directing the commission to summon Modi for questioning after the two-member riot panel rejected its similar plea.

JSM had submitted in the high court that Modi should be summoned by the commission as the role of the chief minister falls within the ambit of the probe panel's inquiry.

However, a division bench of Justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani rejected the application on the grounds that the commission had larger discretionary powers to call witnesses.

JSM had challenged the high court order in the Supreme Court which had last week refused to direct Nanavati Commission to summon Modi, saying it would amount to judicial overreach.

The SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had earlier questioned Modi in connection with the 2002 riots in 2010.

The apex court also made it clear that it cannot monitor and interfere with working of the commission which is a statutory body and yet to place its report before the state legislative assembly.

The commission has also been dealing with the allegations levelled by suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and matters arising out of the same.

It has already probed 4145 riot-related cases reported between February 27, 2002 and May 31, 2002.

The riot panel in 2008 had submitted one part of its findings pertaining to the Godhra train burning incident where it had concluded that the incident of setting afire S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station was a pre-planned conspiracy.

The commission was appointed by the state government on March 3, 2002, under the Commission of Inquiry Act and comprised Justice KG Shah.

The riot panel was formed after the widespread communal riots in the state in the wake of the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

Initially, the terms of reference (TOR) of commission was to inquire into facts, circumstances and course of events that led to burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station.

The state government in May 2002, appointed Justice (retd) GT Nanavati as chairman of the panel.

The TOR was further amended in June 2002 and the commission was also asked to inquire into the incidents of violence that took place after the train burning incident.

In 2008, Justice Akshay Mehta was appointed on the commission following the death of Justice KG Shah.

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