//Judge finds Post Godhra riots probe shoddy

Judge finds Post Godhra riots probe shoddy

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Times of India

25 Aug, 2006

NEW DELHI: Fresh trouble appears to be brewing for the Gujarat government as the district judge, assigned to scrutinise major post-Godhra riot cases has in his report to the Supreme Court, underlined the shoddy probe carried out by the police into several incidents of mass murder.

On the grounds of shoddy probe, the court had earlier entrusted the CBI with the investigation of the Bilkis Bano rape case. It had also transferred the trial of the Best Bakery case to Mumbai. Later, the trial of the rape case was also transferred outside Gujarat.

Additional Sessions and District Judge M L Mehta, who was entrusted the task of going through the bulky case records of 21 major post-Godhra riot cases, submitted his report on Wednesday to the apex court in a sealed cover.

The causal manner in which the police went about in investigating the cases appeared to be the focus of Mehta's report, though it is not known whether he has recommended re-investigation of these cases and that too by an independent probe agency.
Mehta, who took the assistance of lawyers to scrutiny the records, went into the cases that were lodged after major incidents of rioting, arson and murders at Godhra, Sardarpura in Mehsana district, Gulbarga society in Meghani Nagar at Ahmedabad, Naroda Patiya and Ode…

 Any adverse remarks by the scrutiny judge on the probes would vindicate petitioner NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, which had filed a petition three years ago alleging that no proper probe of these cases was carried out by the police with the motive of shielding the accused.

Three years ago, SC, hearing a PIL filed by CJP seeking transfer of the investigation to an independent agency, had stayed the trial proceedings. Mehta's report, along with the PIL, is listed for hearing before the apex court on August 29.

During the last hearing, a Bench headed by Justice K G Balakrishnan had assigned the task to the ASDJ asking him to go through the records as well as affidavits filed by the victims and their relatives alleging non-registration of FIRs, non-recording of statements by witnesses and lack of proper probe into the cases.

The ASDJ, an officer from the Delhi Higher Judicial Service, had started his work on July 17 and worked even on holidays to go through the records to meet the deadline set by SC.

The NGO had submitted before SC that there is a change in the approach of CBI and Centre since UPA came to power in May 2004 and the premier investigating agency is ready to look into these matters.