Gujarat riots Gulbarg case: plea turned down

A plea filed by the Supreme Court (SC)-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gulbarg Society rioting case to stay the trial of the case “in the interest of justice” has been turned down by the designated court.

The SIT’s petition was in view of the recent transfer of judicial officers in the state by the Gujarat High Court (HC). The designated judge, BU Joshi, who is hearing the Gulbarg case, has also been transferred. However, the judge rejected SIT’s plea of staying the hearing by Joshi and said that the hearings shall continue as usual since his transfer is effective, as per HC’s orders

SIT’s special public prosecutor, RC Kodekar submitted an application stating that the final arguments had been going on since December 20, but in the meanwhile, the prosecution came to know about the transfer of the presiding officer. Hence, in the changed circumstances, the judge should stop hearing the case further in the interest of justice.

The judge rejected SIT’s plea with the observation that the court was set up specially to hear the Gulbarg Society massacre case on day-to-day basis. No other case has been allotted to this court.

As per the provisions of section 134 of the criminal manual, when a judge comes to know about his transfer and there is some time left, he should try to complete the proceeding in the part-heard matter. When the provision is clear, the court, which has been asked to hear the case on daily basis, must go on with the hearing.

Thirteen judges have been transferred by the HC last week, and two judges hearing SIT cases are among them. Judge Joshi has been transferred to Dahod, while Judge Jyotsna Yagnik, who is presiding over the Naroda Patia case and is hearing POTA cases including Akshardham terrorist attack case and Ishrat Jahan encounter case, has been shifted to Sabarkantha.

The SC has stayed the court hearing Gulbarg case from delivering final verdict. After examination of more than 300 witnesses and recording of further statements of 66 accused persons, the court has been hearing final arguments. Sixty-nine persons were killed in this colony located in Chamanpura area on February 28, 2002.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 10

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