Court rejects plea to shift Gulberg case to other judge

July 29th, 2010 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Gandhinagar, July 29 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court Thursday rejected the petition of witnesses of Gulberg Society attack during the 2002 communal riots, seeking transfer of cases from the designated judge for his “biased behaviour”.
Rejecting the petition, a division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari said: “The alleged apprehension of bias for seeking transfer of the cases cannot be termed as ‘a reasonable apprehension’ to attract the power of transfer of the cases.”

Petitioner Imtiyazkhan Pathan and other witnesses and victims of the 2002 riots, had moved the court seeking transfer of the cases, alleging that the designated judge B.U. Joshi was biased and adopted an unsympathetic behaviour towards the witnesses.

Though the court rejected the petition, it however directed the judge to be “sober” to the parties in the case.

“We hope that the learned sessions judge will have a sober approach to the witnesses in the conduct of the trial. While exercising judicial powers, he would also, as far as possible, avoid making any uncalled for comments or remarks, unless he finds that the same are directly relevant for exercising his judicial functions,” it said.

Joshi was selected by the High Court to conduct the Gulberg society massacre trial, in which 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri were killed, on directions of the Supreme Court in the case of National Human Rights Commission vs State of Gujarat and others.

The present petitioners had moved the principal judge in January seeking transfer of cases but their plea was turned down on grounds of jurisdiction, which led them to move the high court. A single judge bench had admitted the petition and referred it to the division bench for consideration.

“We find it proper to observe and clarify that the present order shall not operate as a bar to the Honourable Chief Justice in exercising the power on administrative side for transfer of the case/s if any contingency so arises, independently or if it so observed and directed by the apex court,” the court said in the judgment.

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