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Court gag on Godhra report

A division bench of the high court, comprising Justice M.R. Shah, on Monday ruled that no agency, including Parliament or the Railway Ministry, should act on the U.C. Banerjee panel report pending its interim order on the matter on March 8.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 04:02 IST

A division bench of the high court, comprising Justice M.R. Shah, on Monday ruled that no agency, including Parliament or the Railway Ministry, should act on the U.C. Banerjee panel report pending its interim order on the matter on March 8.

Neelkanth Bhatia, a survivor of the Godhra train blaze incident on February 27, 2002, had challenged the constitutional validity of the Banerjee Committee in the high court. His petition termed the Banerjee Committee illegal as it was functioning when a commission, formed under the Commission of Inquiries Act, was already probing the incident.

Releasing the contents of the Banerjee panel, the petition argued, would adversely affect witnesses and trial in the Godhra train burning case.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, sources told HT that the Railways Ministry had referred the matter to the attorney-general asking whether tabling the report in Parliament amounted to action taken.

The Banerjee panel report triggered unruly scenes in Parliament with the Lok Sabha being adjourned twice amid demands that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi be dismissed. The Rajya Sabha saw a 10-minute disruption as the Congress and the Left mounted an offensive on the BJP.

Parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, however, assured angry Lok Sabha members that the railway minister will make a statement on the issue on Tuesday. His deputy, Suresh Pachauri, promised the final report will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

The report had its impact in the Gujarat Assembly's Budget session too. Replying to a question during the Zero Hour, Minister of State for Home Amit Shah insisted that the Godhra train fire was a “conspiracy” and not an “accident”.

He told Neemaben Acharya of the Congress and Pravinsinh Jadeja of the BJP that the Banerjee panel was “politically motivated”. In the state, BJP workers stepped up protests against the Banerjee panel report.

In Rajkot, angry BJP supporters submitted a memorandum to the Collector against the Banerjee report.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 02:23 IST