November 23, 2006
Times of India
Godhra riot cases: SC snubs CM Modi
NEW DELHI: Supreme
Court on Wednesday virtually snubbed the Narendra Modi government as
it sought dismissal of all PILs on post-Godhra riot cases saying
such petitions could not be entertained by the court if one applied
its own recent ruling.
Gujarat government pleaded that the 'no PIL in criminal case'
principle laid down recently by the court while dismissing a PIL
against railway minister Lalu Prasad applies in equal vigour to the
2002 riot cases.
Its counsel Sourav Kripal quoted the court's judgment: "Monitoring
of pending trial is subversion of criminal law as it stands to mean
that the court behind the back of the accused is entering into a
dialogue with the investigating agency. Therefore, there can be no
monitoring after the chargesheet is filed."
He said chargesheets have been filed in all the important 17 cases,
in which trial has been stayed after the PIL petitioners sought
reinvestigation and shifting of the case outside Gujarat accusing
the police of being hand-in-glove with the accused.
Counsel for the accused in riot cases, senior advocate K T S Tulsi,
said by entertaining the PILs and passing directions on reopening of
cases, SC is inventing a new criminal jurisprudence and moving away
from CrPC. After patiently hearing counsel for some time, the Bench
virtually gave it back to both.
"Supreme Court has the larger interest in protecting the
administration of criminal justice system. It cannot remain a silent
spectator when the police goes on subverting the procedure
established under CrPC. And then, it is not open to others to argue
that the court should stick strictly to the procedure established
under CrPC," it said.
It agreed that while dealing with the PILs in the post-Godhra riot
cases, the court might have moved a "little away" from the procedure
established under the CrPC, but in the same vein, it justified such
departure saying the facts and circumstances of the cases as well as
the manner of investigations were also different from normal.
"Post-mortem examination of the dead bodies were not done, the
doctors conducting the post-mortem were not examined, bodies were
buried without informing the relatives... How can you say that
everything was done in accordance with the procedure established
under law?" the Bench counter-questioned counsel for the accused.
Amicus curiae Harish Salve said the old theory in criminal
jurisprudence that a criminal case is between the state and the
accused needed a fresh look as now countries have began recognising
the rights of the victims or their relatives in a criminal trial.
He said that there was something amiss in Gujarat is clear from the
fact that the apex court transferred trials of the Best Bakery case
and the Bilkis Banu gangrape case outside the state.