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Gujarat HC flays Banerjee Committee

According to the High Court, the Sabarmati Express fire report should not have been made public.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 15:35 IST

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday ordered a stay on any further action on the UC Banerjee Commission report on the Sabarmati Express carnage till a petition challenging the constitution of the Commission is disposed off.

Hearing on the said petition filed by a survivor will begin from April 3.

The single bench of Justice MR Shah ruled that until the case is disposed off, the Commission's report cannot be acted upon.

Handing down an interim order, which is quite similar to an ad-interim order passed on Monday, the judge has asked the Centre and the Railway Ministry in particular and also other respondents not to act or rely upon it.

"This report should not be acted upon or relied upon by any respondent in any manner," he noted in his order.

He reiterated that Justice Banerjee should not have made the contents public even if he had to submit the report to the Railway ministry.

Not only did he submit it, he also a held a press conference to reveal its contents, Justice Shah observed.

He said propriety demanded that Justice Banerjee should have waited till March 7 as the Court had posted its hearing on the petition till that date.

The matter was sub-judice, he noted, adding that the authority of the court has been made undermined.

Petitioner Neelkanth Bhatia had moved the court last year, questioning the setting up of a commission when another one -- Justice GT Nanavati-Justice KG Shah Commission, appointed by the Gujarat Government, was already probing into incident and the riots that followed.

Today's order is directed to respondents, including Union of India, Railway Ministry, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Indian Railway (Western region), Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety, based in Mumbai, Union Home Secretary, Delhi, Nanavati-Shah Commission, UC Banerjee Commission and the State of Gujarat.

The High Court on February 21 had said the Banerjee Commission should not make its findings public until there was a final order on the Neelkanth Bhatia petition before it.

The Banerjee Commission, set up by the Railway Ministry to look into the cause of fire and other technical aspects of the train carnage, had, on March 3, submitted its final report to Railway Board Chairman JP Batra, in which it said that the fire was result of an accident.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 13:10 IST