Revisiting two Godhra panels

After bloody riots broke out in Gujarat following the train-burning incident on February 27, 2002, the Narendra Modi government, under attack for having allegedly abetted the communal disturbances, announced an inquiry commission to probe the event.
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Updated on Feb 24, 2011 01:09 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMahesh Langa, Ahmedabad

After bloody riots broke out in Gujarat following the train-burning incident on February 27, 2002, the Narendra Modi government, under attack for having allegedly abetted the communal disturbances, announced an inquiry commission to probe the event.

On March 6, the state set up a commission of enquiry headed by retired Gujarat high court judge KG Shah to enquire into the Godhra train burning and the subsequent violence, and submit a report in three months.

Following criticism from NGOs, activists and parties over Shah's alleged proximity to the BJP, on May 22, the government reconstituted the commission, appointing retired Supreme Court judge GT Nanavati to lead the commission.

In September 2008, the commission submitted its part one report related to the train-burning incident at Godhara.

The commission has recently got its 15th extension and is now mandated to submit its second part report by July this year.

Banerjee panel: After the Congress-led UPA came to power at the Centre following the BJP-led NDA's defeat in the parliamentary polls, railways minister Lalu Prasad in September 2004 appointed a panel headed by former Supreme Court judge UC Banerjee to probe the Godhra train fire incident. However, Godhra train carnage victim Nilkanth Bhatia and the Gujarat government challenged the formation of the committee at the high court, which ruled in October 2006 that the formation of the committee was illegal and was in violation of the Commissions of inquiry Act, 1952, which prohibits the setting up of separate commissions by governments, state or central, to probe a matter of public importance.

The high court also declared the report submitted by the committee null and void and restrained the Centre from tabling the report in Parliament. The Centre's appeal challenging the high court ruling is pending for four years at Gujarat high court.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022