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Legal sword still hangs over Bhatt, Pathak Tuesday, October 16, 2001
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Their successful political career came to a grinding halt on November 7, 2000, when the additional city civil and sessions judge Sonia Gokani framed charges against 11 persons. Union minister of state for defence production Harin Pathak and state health minister Ashok Bhatt figured in the list of co-accused. Four days later they resigned from the respective ministries.
But even as the legal battle lingers on, Pathak was on Monday reinstated in the Vajpayee ministry and there are indications that Bhatt is enroute to becoming a member of the Modi Cabinet on Wednesday.
On April 22, 1985, a commission appointed by the Gujarat High Court was investigating into the police role during the communal riots near Chhabila Hanuman in Raipur area of the city that took place a few weeks before.
It was alleged that after the speeches delivered by Bhatt, Pathak and others, a mob attacked police constable Laxman Jabbabhai Desai with sharp weapons, killing him on the spot, and severely injuring another constable Ratiram Yadav, during the riots.
A complaint was filed by the then deputy commissioner of police J Mahapatra against 11 for unlawful assembly, injury to policemen on duty, attempt to murder and murder during the communal riots.
The accused then filed an application in the HC seeking to quash the complaint filed against them having charges of committing murder. The accused had challenged the complaint and the proceedings filed under Section 188 of IPC along with other charges, as the procedure provided under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedural Code was not followed by the police.
The HC had then quashed and set aside the charges on November 15, and had directed the sessions court to hear the case again after reframing charges and providing all the documents to the accused. Two of the accused had sought that the report of the inquiry commission appointed by the HC to investigate into the riots, was not made available to them despite an earlier HC order.
In addition, the government pleaded that it was found on perusal of the order of the additional sessions court, that the court had framed charges against accused No. 1 to 11 without considering the material documents, namely the inspection report of the court.
The court ordered that since the charges as framed by the additional session court in-charge is not only contrary to the law but was in violation of the direction given by the HC on September 25, 2000, hence they be set aside. It was also assured to the HC that the copies of the report would be provided to the accused.
It was on December 13, that the HC stayed the proceedings including those in the sessions court as well as the previous order of the High Court to find and produce the report of the Court Inquiry Commission. On December 26, the stay was extended till January.
This had kicked off a controversy as the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association president Yatin Oza had shot a letter last week to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India saying that the petition, on the basis of which the stay was granted by the court, was admitted at the last minute and was taken up for hearing immediately, without having intimated the relatives of the deceased constable.
Following a HC order to start a fresh trial in the trial court, the city civil and sessions court started hearing on August 7, 2001, with the widow of the slained police constable Laxman Desai joining as a party and advocate B M Gupta, who had earlier applied to join as a party, appearing on her behalf. The matter was assigned afresh to ASJ Z K Saiyed.
Saiyed, however referred the case to the principal judge, who moved it to additional sessions judge V C Modi. The accused then moved an application for discharge stating that there was no substantial case against them and cited the court commission's document which pointed that Bhatt was present before the commission at the time of incident.
However, the Court observing that there were prima facie evidence suggesting Bhatt's involvement in instigating the violence, it turned down the discharge plea. Now, they have moved the High Court.
News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]