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Sohrab Remarks
Make your stand clear, SC to Modi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 12
After a three-hour long heated arguments on the raging controversy over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s election speech referring to the pending Sohrabuddin encounter case, the Supreme Court today issued notice to him asking him to make his stand clear.

The notice was issued by a Bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandari on an application moved by Sohrabuddin’s brother Robabuddin, seeking the initiation of contempt of court proceedings against Modi for his alleged comment in his election speech on the pending case.

The court, however, exempted Modi from personal appearance when the matter would be listed for the next hearing after the winter vacation in January.

It also rejected the plea of Robabuddin’s counsel Dushyant Dave for the stay of the trial in the Sohrabuddin “fake encounter” in a court at Ahmedabad, which has fixed Decemebr 24 for framing charges against three IPS officers and some other accused persons.

But during the heated arguments, the Gujarat government came out with a revelation that Sohrabuddin was convicted in a TADA case along with some other accused and an appeal in the same was pending before the apex court.

The details of the case were placed on record by the state government, while its counsel Mukul Rohtagi said the Chief Minister had referred to Sohrabuddin as “terrorist” in the context of this case only as a counter to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s allegations of “merchants of death”against him.

Rohtagi said nowhere Modi in the speech had said anything about the probe in the case, its trial proceedings and the pending petition in the apex court to warrant issuing of notice for contempt.

He also said since the Election Commission (EC) had taken cognisance of both Sonia Gandhi and his speeches, the apex court’s proceedings would not only “overlap” with those of the poll panel but also might “influence” its decision.

Reading the entire text of Modi’s speech as placed before the EC, the Gujarat government counsel said “his speech was nothing but a election rhetoric counter to Sonia Gandhi’s allegations of merchant of death against him.”

He also said if the notice was issued the court would “unwittingly” help Modi’s political opponents at a time of election as they would go back to the state and tell public that “see even the Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the matter”.

Thought the court agreed the issuing of notices or the rejection of the petition could be exploited by either rival parties in the election, yet the matter for issuing notice was clinched by Dave, who said the court should not be influenced by the fact that the comments on a pending case were made in the course of an election speech.

The duty of the court was to enforce the rule of the law, he said, and in this case at least notice must go to the Chief Minister to seek his reply whether his comments would not amount to committing the contempt of court.

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