M A I N   N E W S

SC’s no to plea on vacating stay on Banerjee report
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 3
The Supreme Court today turned down Centre’s plea for vacating the stay on placing before Parliament the report of the Justice U. C. Banerjee committee that had gone into the cause of the fire in the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on February 27, 2002, leading to widespread riots in Gujarat, claiming over 1,000 lives.

The Union Government’s petition for vacating the Gujarat High Court stay on placing the report before Parliament came up for hearing before a Bench of Mr Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D. K. Jain, which declined to pass any interim direction in this regard.

The Bench, however, issued notices to the Gujarat Government, the Banerjee Committee, the Nanavati-Shah Commission probing entire gamut of the Gujarat riots, the Commissioner, Railway Safety, and Mr Nilkanth Tulsidas Bhatia, a passenger of the ill-fated train, who had moved the high court, challenging the setting up of the committee.

The committee was set up on the request of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad to have parallel probe in the Sabarmati incident when the Nanavati-Shah panel was already inquiring into all incidents of riots.

All respondents, including the Home, the Railway and the Law Ministries were directed to submit their replies to the court notice on the Centre’s plea.

The apex court allowed the high court to proceed ahead with the writ petition of Mr Bhatia pending before its Division Bench, which on March 20 had passed an interim order inter-alia holding the appointment of the Banerjee Committee illegal to the extent that it could not be asked to look into the same incidents which were being probed by the Nanavati-Shah Commission appointed by the Gujarat Government.

The Bench expressed the hope that the high court would dispose of the matter as early as possible.

The high court had said that the two panels were in fact “overlapping” each others. Pending final disposal of Mr Bhatia’s petition by the high court, Justice U. C. Banerjee, a former judge of the Supreme Court, had submitted his report to the Union Government on March 3.

Prior to the Division Bench’s order, a single judge Bench of the high court in its order on March 6 had stayed the implementation of the Banerjee Committee report.

It had said that the proceedings of the committee was in “direct conflict” with the terms of reference to the Nanavati-Shah Commission. The order was challenged by the Union Government. 





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