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Godhra panel rejects Presidentís privilege
R.K. Misra

Gandhinagar, September 6
The Nanavati-Shah Commission, probing the Gujarat communal violence, has rejected the claims of special privilege of the Presidentís office in relation to the correspondence between then President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee on the issue in 2002, and asked for it to be presented before the panel. No time limit has, however, been set for it.

In itís ruling in Ahmedabad today, the commission said the ruling was based on the surmise that the correspondence in no way endangered the security of the country and therefore, could be released.

The commission sought to differ with the claim of the Presidentís office that the release of the correspondence would be a breach of privilege and said it would not be so. It said keeping in view the high office of the Constitutional authority, a request would be made for making the correspondence available.

ďThese documents are necessary for purposes of investigation and parting with it would in no way be a threat to the security of the countryĒ, it noted.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mr Mukul Sinha of the Jan Sangharsh Manch said it was perhaps for the first time that any panel had sought the release of such a correspondence. Mr Sinha has been doggedly arguing before the commission for the release of the correspondence.

Mr Narayanan, in a published interview, had stated that the Centre did not act in time despite the fact that he had written to Prime Minister Vajpayee in the matter. Mr Sinha, thereafter, urged the commission to call for the correspondence as it would shed crucial light on the subject under investigation.

However, the commissionís communication to the Presidentís office elicited the reply that the communication between the two was privileged and could not be disclosed before the panel.

On July 7, Mr Sinha again filed an application before the commission pointing out that the Presidentís office could not seek such privileges in this case it did not constitute an official secret. Moreover, under Article 74(2) of the Constitution there are no such privileges for the President.

However, the plea was again turned down citing Sections 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act.

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