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    2002 riots: No need for Modi to depose, says HC

    Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has rejected the appeal of NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch seeking Chief Minister Narendra Modi's deposition before the Nanavati-Mehta Commission in the 2002 riots cases. The Gujarat High Court has said that there is no need to summon or cross examine Modi in the cases.

    A division bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sonia Gokani passed the order on the NGO's petition on Wednesday.

    After the High Court's order, JSM lawyer Mukul Sinha said that Modi should depose and said that they will move Supreme Court seeking this.

    Senior BJP leader Balbir Punj welcomed the Gujarat High Court's decision. "We welcome Gujarat High court's decision. In this case, affidavits were messed up and false witnesses were presented in order to tarnish Narendra Modi's image and involve him in legal tussles so that he isn't able to continue the good work he is doing for the people of Gujarat."

    Riot victims and NGOs had earlier approached the High Court, seeking Modi's deposition before the riots inquiry commission after the Gujarat government appointed Nanavati-Mehta Commission had earlier rejected an application by Jan Sangharsh Manch, seeking Modi's deposition and cross examination before the commission. This matter was earlier heard by a division bench comprising former Chief Justice SK Mukhopadhyay, but was referred again to a division bench following his transfer.

    JSM lawyer Mukul Sinha had approached the High Court after the Commission of Justice GT Nanavati and Justice Akshay Mehta, probing the 2002 riot cases, had rejected JSM's plea to summon Modi.

    Sinha had submitted in the court that Modi should be summoned by the Commission as the role of the Chief Minister falls within the ambit of the probe panel's inquiry.

    The state government itself, in new terms of reference announced in 2005, had given the probe panel the liberty to examine the conduct of the Chief Minister, he stated, adding that there are many questions related to riots that could be answered only by Modi.

    Advocate general Kamal Trivedi appearing for the state government said the appeal was 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 was for the Commission to decided whom should it call for questioning.

    He suggested that the court leave it to the Commission to decide on whether to summon Modi or not as its works under its own rules and procedures as per the Commission's Act.

    The Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had questioned Modi over the riots for over 10 hours in 2010.

    (With additional information from PTI)