The Nanavaty judicial inquiry commission, set up on March 3, ’02, by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Gujarat to probe the Godhra train carnage and the subsequent communal riots, was mandated to submit its report within three months. One hundred and forty-two months or almost 12 years later, it’s just got its 21st extension, till June 30, 2014.
Dr Mukul Sinha, whose Jan Sangharsh Manch has been fighting the cause of the riot victims before the commission, is candid when he states that so much time’s elapsed that people may have well forgotten the very incidents that the panel was meant to inquire into. “The 2002 violence saw Modi turn into a Hindutva icon. Now the man aspires to lead the country in the general elections of 2014. Yet the question as to who was responsible for the death of some one thousand people still awaits an answer,” he says.
Initially headed by high court judge K.G. Shah, the state government later decided to appoint retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavaty as commission chairman while widening its scope to cover the post-Godhra communal riots and again in 2004 to bring the role of the CM and the administration into the ambit of the probe. Justice Shah passed away in 2008 and was replaced by another retired judge of the high court, Justice Akshay Mehta.
The commission has also been mired in controversy. Justice Mehta was outed in a sting operation on 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre accused Babu Bajrangi. There’s also the small matter of Justice Nanavaty’s son Maulik taking over as additional public prosecutor at the Gujarat HC as also the fact of his brother Dhaval becoming an empanelled lawyer of the BJP-controlled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
State Congress spokesperson Dr Manish Doshi calls all the commissions appointed by the Gujarat government “Modi Bachao Commissions”. “Has any of these commissions indicted the government on any count? They are all whitewash jobs,” he says. Mukul Sinha finds it “strange that the main person against whom allegations were made for responsibility of the 2002 riots has never been examined by the panel set up to find out how it happened!” All this while, according to an RTI application, the state government had spent Rs 6.32 crore on the panel till 2011.
There have been contradictions galore as well. While the Nanavaty Commission held that the Godhra train carnage was a well-hatched conspiracy, the U.C. Banerjee panel appointed by the UPA’s then rail minister Laloo Yadav found no evidence to suggest such a thing. The Nanavaty Commission held Maulana Umarji as the key Godhra conspirator while the special court trying him acquitted him.
Incidentally, the POTA review panel headed by retired Allahabad HC judge S.C. Jain had on May 16, 2005, recommended the removal of POTA provisions from the Godhra train carnage case as the burning of the compartment was “certainly not part of the conspiracy as envisaged under POTA provisions”.
Ironically, in March 2010, then home minister Amit Shah had stated in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha that the Nanavaty Commission would submit the second part of its report by June end of the year. But it’s been extension piled up on weary extension and the report is still awaited, 40 months later.
By R.K. Misra in Ahmedabad
The Nanavati Commission is a joke (Twelve Years and..., Jan 27), a waste of taxpayers’ money. It showed its true colours when it perversely refused to call Modi to testify.
The Nanavaty Commission is just a joke. It is a waste of taxpayers' money. It showed its true colors when it perversely refused to call Modi to testify. It is not fooling anyone.
' Set up by the Modi government...'
Need a word more?
If the delay and procratination and all the machinations are being done to save Modi at state level one would only expect this exercise of commission coming to naught when the BJP comes to power in the center.In India minorities are dispensable and RSS and BJP are making merry.Even if the whole sordid tale is displayed on the TV,as it happened in the Babri Majid demolition by RSS goons,Muslims are considered violent that is propagted by RSS leaning media.The RSS inspired Hindus will keep killing Muslims under some pretext and calling Muslims as the ones who did it.The commissions are only omissisons and a big eyewash.With impunity RSS is continuing its wicked agenda.
Actually the 2002 riots never took place. All a figment of COngis imagination.
The whole purpose of a Commission like this is to sit and sit and sit and sit until their findings no longer excite any political passions at all. (At least twenty years for this one, I think, if not more.)
If half the people involved die of old age before being called to testify even better.
The absolutely last thing a commission is supposed to do is to apportion blame in a manner which anybody at all ever finds politically uncomfortable.
This is a part of our eccentric tradition of maintaining public order after the fact. (Another expression of which can be found in three part SC judgements, with one part telling one side they are correct, another part tellign the other side they are correct, and the third issuing a ruling on a related matter which was not actually a part of the case.)
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