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November 23, 2006

The Deccan Herald

Apex court slams Gujarat over riots

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asserted that it was powerless when the state machinery was conducting a shoddy investigation into a large number of Gujarat communal riots cases in order to shield the culprits, but at the same time it held itself duty-bound to ensure justice.  
Justice K G Balakrishnan, heading a three-judge bench, was responding to the contention of the Gujarat government that a PIL in a criminal case was totally foreign as per the judgement of the apex court in the fodder scam case.
The court, while fixing February 20 as the next date of hearing, directed amicus curiae senior counsel Harish Salve to prepare a brief note of eight major incidents of riots in which 17 FIRs have been registered.

The court also directed to file brief notes of 1,900 cases in which closure reports filed by the Gujarat police have been found wrong by the Supreme Court-appointed panel. The Court, however, delinked petitions seeking the transfer of three suits for damages outside the state in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been made defendant number one and fixed December 4 for consideration of three transfer petitions, which have been filed by the widows of those killed during riots seeking damage to the tune of Rs 26 crore.  
The Gujarat government had earlier challenged the locus standi of the petitioner who were neither family members nor relatives of the victims and said that petitions filed by the third party under the garb of PIL are not maintainable, and therefore the same should be dismissed.
The court, however, was not inclined to agree with the contention raised by the state and made it clear that if there is failure on the part of the state to rule in accordance with the law then it cannot remain a mute spectator.