Ahmedabad:  In a reprieve for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat High Court today rejected a petition for summoning him to the Nanavati Commission for questioning in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, observing there was no substance in the plea.

A division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani while dismissing the application of NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch (JSM) said the Commission that is probing the riots has larger discretionary powers to summon witnesses.
    
JSM's lawyer Mukul Sinha said they will approach the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
    
"The High Court has held that it is at the discretion of the Commission to allow or disallow cross-examination," he said.
    
JSM, representing some riot victims, had approached the High Court for directing the Commission to call Modi for questioning after the Commission of Justice G T Nanavati and Justice Akshay Mehta had rejected it's plea to summon him.
    
BJP welcomed the HC order saying Modi stands vindicated.
    
"It (order) once again showed that there is no material on record as of now against the Chief Minister for the events (riots) to take place," BJP leader and lawyer Devang Nanavati said. "The Chief Minister stands vindicated," he said.
     
Reacting to the verdict, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid spoke against mixing legal and political issues. He said the matters should be either left to the court or they be settled politically.
     
Sinha had submitted in the court that Modi should be summoned by the Commission as the role of the Chief Minister fell within the ambit of its inquiry.
    
There are many questions related to riots that can be answered only by the Chief Minister, he said.
    
How the truth will come out if there is no examination or cross-examination, Sinha asked.
    
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, appearing for the state government, had submitted that the appeal is not maintainable under law as the Commission's Act does not allow any third party to demand for questioning of any person.
   
Trivedi said it is for the Commission to decide whom it should call for questioning.

Nanavati Commission only a fact-finding body: Gujarat HC

The Nanavati Commission, probing the 2002 post-Godhra riots, was only a "fact-finding" body with no power to enforce or implement its recommendations, the Gujarat High Court said.
   
This observation was made by a Division Bench of justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani, while rejecting an NGO's petition seeking direction to the two-member probe panel to summon Chief Minister Narendra Modi for questioning regarding the riots triggered by Godhra train carnage.

The court, while dismissing the petition of Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), also declined to interfere with the Commission's proceedings, saying inquiry was yet to conclude and it cannot be subjected to judicial scrutiny at this stage.
   
It noted the state government-appointed Commission had wide discretionary powers to regulate its own procedures. JSM, representing some riot victims, had moved the HC in 2010 seeking quashing of the judicial panel's order of not summoning Modi. It had sought direction to issue summons to the chief minister and five others for cross-examination with regard to the communal violence in which over 1,000 people were killed.
   
"The Commission is only a fact-finding body and it has to collect evidence and make recommendations. It has no power to enforce or implement such recommendations," the court said.
   
"At this stage, even before completion of proceedings of the Commission, we do not find that its tentative conclusions are open to judicial scrutiny... we are not inclined to interfere, at least at this stage," the judges noted.

(Agencies)