Apex court bars verdicts, refuses stay on Gujarat riots cases

May 6th, 2010 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday restrained Gujarat trial courts hearing the post-Godhra riots cases from pronouncing their verdict, but refused to stay the proceedings on allegations of lapses.
It is “unlikely that the trial will be over shortly, but in case a trial gets over the verdict will not be pronounced,” the court said in connection with social activist Teesta Seetalvad’s allegations of faulty investigation into riots cases.

A bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Aftab Alam asked A.K. Malhotra, former deputy inspector general of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gujarat riots, to look into complaints of deficiencies in the investigation and their handling in courts.

The SIT was set up by the apex court.

The court also directed that SIT chief R.K. Raghvan in consultation with amicus curiae Harish Salve would select two special public prosecutors (SPPs) for Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya massacre cases linked to the riots.

The court said as soon as the new SPPs are selected, the trial in both the cases would resume.

The trial in the cases was being conducted by SPPs R.K. Shah and Nigam R. Shukla till now. Shah resigned recently and Shukla was Thursday relieved on the request of the SIT chief.

Shukla was earlier slammed by the apex court for sending e-mails and speaking to media airing his grievances over the ongoing trial in the riots cases. Both the SPPs had questioned the fairness of trial court judges.

On Thursday, the court asked Malhotra to look into the application of Seetalvad pointing to deficiencies in the investigations into the riots cases and their trial.

The court also told Malhotra to examine the response of the SIT chief to Seetalvad’s application and other available records.

Before the start of the day’s proceedings, the apex court judges met with amicus curiae Salve and Raghvan in their chambers.

While the court was about to pass the order, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for Bharatiya Janata Party’s legislator from Gujarat, Kalubhai Marwari, said that the April 27, 2009, order directing the SIT to look into the complaint of Zakia Jafari was causing him “untold harm”.

The court pointed out that the order asked “the SIT to only look into the matter. At the moment, we don’t want to comment on how the SIT interpreted that order”.

After court declined to stay the April 27, 2009, order without hearing the matter, Jethmalani said: “I have not seen usage of such words like ‘look into’ in the parlance of criminal jurisprudence.”

Just as the court indicated that it shall pass an order, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi appearing for the Gujarat government intervened, saying that before doing so the court should hear him on the maintainability of Seetalvad’s application.

He said her application should be rejected.

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