Apex Court objects to Gujarat riot probe panel’s report leakage

April 21st, 2009 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday took strong exception to the leakage of a special panel’s probe report on communal violence in Gujarat that has reportedly indicted various NGOs for “cooking up macabre tales of wanton killings”.
“It is the betrayal of the faith of this court by a person on whom this court had reposed its trust,” a bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat said.

“We do not approve of such things,” said the bench, which also included Justice P. Sathasvam and Justice Aftab Alam.

It became furious when told about the leakage of the report, submitted to it by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R.K. Raghvan.

Raghvan was entrusted the task of probing some of the most crucial and heinous riot offences during February-March 2002 in the wake of the burning of a train in Godhra, in which 59 people were killed.

Condemning the leakage of the report, a copy of which was given to Gujarat government counsel Mukul Rohatgi and senior counsel Harish Salve, Justice Pasayat said: “It is betrayal of the trust of the court and we condemn it in no uncertain terms.”

According to media reports, the panel report censured social activist Teesta Setalvad saying she had cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings.

“Many incidents of killings and violence were cooked up, false charges were levelled against then police chief P.C. Pandey and false witnesses were tutored to give evidence about imaginary incidents,” the media reports quoted the probe panel’s report as saying.

During court proceedings April 13, Gujarat government counsel Mukul Rohatgi, quoting from the report, pointed out to the court that the probe panel has rubbished various allegations some NGOs have made against the state government in their lawsuit.

The panel has noted that most of these allegations were stereotyped and without any substance, Rohatgi had told the court that day, while seeking its permission to read more excerpts from the reports.

But the court had not allowed this, saying it had last month termed the report “confidential” and out of bound for various petitioners, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on whose plea the panel had been formed to probe the carnage.

The excerpts of the report, however, later had appeared in a section of the media.

During the court proceedings Tuesday, Setalvad’s counsel Indira Jaisingh demanded a copy of the panel’s report, saying that she needed it to refute its findings against her client.

The court earlier sought to brush off the demand, observing in the “lighter vein” that “if you want to reach anything to the market in a faster way, declare it confidential.”

But later, taking note of the seriousness of Jaisingh’s demand, it took exception to the leakage of the report.

At one point, Justice Pasayat even showed the court’s copy of the report to those present, saying it was still sealed.

On allegations by Jaisingh that Rohatgi had quoted excerpts of the report in his interview to various television channels too, the court specifically asked him if he had done so. Rohatgi replied in the negative.

The court, however, later remarked that he should not have even read out from the report on April 13, when the court had already declared it confidential.

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