Godhra | SC upholds stay on panel report | india | Hindustan Times
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Godhra | SC upholds stay on panel report

The dossier contains the findings of UC Banerjee Committee, set up by railway ministry to probe the Godhra carnage.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2006 02:29 IST

The central government on Monday suffered a setback when the Supreme Court declined to lift a stay against the tabling in parliament of a panel's report that concluded the Godhra train carnage of 2002 was an accident.

A bench of judges KG Balakrishnan and DK Jain, however, issued notice to Neelkanth Tulsidas Bhatia, a petitioner in the Gujarat High Court, on a special leave petition filed by the central government against the order.

The bench after hearing Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam also issued notice to the other respondents -- the commissioner of railway safety, Union home ministry, law ministry, the Banerjee Committee, the Nanavati-Shah Commission and the Gujarat government.

The UC Banerjee Committee was constituted by the railway ministry in 2004 to investigate into the Godhra tragedy where a burning of a compartment of the Sabarmati Express had left 59 passengers dead on February 27, 2002.

The tragedy had triggered communal violence in the state that claimed at least 1,000 lives, as the state's investigating agencies charged about 130 Muslims of the town of hatching a conspiracy to kill the passengers.

The Nanavati-Shah commission was constituted by the state government to investigate the Godhra tragedy as well as the ensuing violence.

Subramaniam pleaded for staying the high court order of March 20. But counsel for Bhatia said that if stay was granted the writ petition before the High Court would become infructuous and the purpose of filing the petition would be lost.

He said the matter had already been listed for final disposal and the High Court should be allowed to dispose off the petition.

Taking note of the argument, the bench refused to stay the order but issued notice.

The High Court had held illegal the appointment of the Banerjee Committee as it was appointed to look into the same incident at Godhra, for which Gujarat had appointed the Nanavati-Shah commission.

The central government argued that the High Court order infringed upon the power and privileges of parliament including those of holding discussion on an issue of public importance in the house.

It said the terms of reference of both the commissions clearly show that there was no overlapping.

Contrary to the law laid down by the apex court, the High Court had also came to the conclusion that the pending trial of criminal cases would be prejudiced if the report of the Banerjee Committee was allowed to be published.

In its interim report, the railway ministry's panel had concluded that the tragedy was merely and accident and there was no evidence to show that a mob set the bogey on fire.