Ahmedabad, April 9: Gujarat riot victims are upset over the appointment to the inquiry commission of a former judge who was described as apna aadmi by an accused.
The Jan Sangharsh Manch, which represents the riot victims, has decided to boycott the Nanavati Commission following the appointment of Justice (retd) Akshay Mehta of Gujarat High Court. He replaces Justice K.G. Shah, who passed away last month.
Expressing shock, manch advocate Mukul Sinha said he would write to the government to rescind its decision. The forum, he said, would boycott the panel headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati till the government gives its final verdict.
The commission is probing the Godhra train carnage and the riots that followed.
Mehta rebutted the charges. There is no truth in the allegations they are levelling against me. The government will take a final decision, he said.
Mehta, who retired from the high court in December 2007, was mentioned by Babu Bajrangi, an accused in the Naroda Patia massacre during the 2002 riots, as apna aadmi (our man) in a television sting operation carried out by Tehelka.
The judge, Sinha pointed out, is yet to be cleared of the charges. Hence, his appointment is not in the interest of the justice, the advocate said.
Mehta was a sitting judge when Bajrangi made the allegation.
In the Tehelka tapes, Bajrangi is heard saying that when his bail application was turned down by two other judges, the chief minister sent him a message, saying his file would be placed before Akshay Mehta who would grant him bail. Mehta granted him (Bajrangi) bail without looking at his file, the accused said.
The commission has called for the Tehelka tapes. Now as its member, Mehta himself will decide whether the allegation levelled against him is true or not. This is absurd. No judge can decide his own case. We are not suggesting that the allegation is correct, but no one has cleared the judge. So until his name is cleared, we are going to boycott the commission, Sinha said.
The commission is on its eighth extension till June this year. Two important issues are pending before it: an application to summon chief minister Narendra Modi for cross-examination, and the CDs containing the phone call details during the riot period.
The manch had suggested the names of five judges after the death of Justice Shah. But the government overlooked them and appointed Justice Mehta, Sinha said.