Supreme Court orders hearing of 2002 riot cases in Gujarat (Second Lead)

May 1st, 2009 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday ruled that the trial of 10 of the crucial post-Godhra train carnage riot cases will not be transferred out of Gujarat but ordered the state government to set up fast track courts and ensure that witnesses are protected against the accused.
While giving its ruling on a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) petition requesting the transfer of the cases to another state, a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Asok Kumar Ganguly ordered the establishment of six special fast track courts in Gujarat itself for trial of the 2002 riot cases.

The fast track courts will be set up in Naroda Patia, Naroda Gam and Gulbarg in Ahmedabad as well as Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Anand and Sabarmati Jail.

The apex court ordered the state government to appoint senior and experienced lawyers as special public prosecutors.

It said the appointments should be made in consultation with a special probe panel headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R.K. Raghavan.

The Supreme Court also ordered appointment of senior judicial officers to preside over the trials of these cases and possibly conduct them on a day-to-day basis. It requested the chief justice of the Gujarat High Court to personally select the judicial officers.

The court stipulated several conditions to protect the witnesses in the cases “to ensure that a sense of confidence is enthused in the victims and their relatives so that they depose fearlessly before the court”.

The order also provided for “safe passage for the witnesses to and from the trial court, security to them at their residences where necessary and also relocation of witnesses to other states wherever such a step is necessary”.

But the apex court said the special probe team headed by Raghavan would take a final call on what type of security is to be provided to a particular witness.

The Supreme Court had constituted the special probe team headed by Raghavan on March 28, 2008 in response to a NHRC petition seeking probe into the 10 riot cases by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and senior police officials have been accused of involvement in the anti-Muslim violence that left over 1,000 people dead.

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