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SC issues contempt notice against Modi
December 12, 2007 14:12 IST
Last Updated: December 12, 2007 19:08 IST
In fresh trouble for Narendra Modi [Images], the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a contempt notice to the chief minister for allegedly justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter and rejected the Gujarat government's plea that the case be heard after elections.
The court, however, exempted Modi from personal appearance saying, "We do not feel the contemnor needs to be present at this stage."
"Let the notice be issued," a Bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandari said at the end of a day-long hearing during which the Gujarat government vehemently opposed the plea for initiating contempt proceeding against Modi for his election speech.
Modi has already been slapped with a notice by the Election Commission on the Sohrabuddin issue.
The order was passed on the application filed by Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of Sohrabuddin, who had alleged that the December 4 speech of Modi allegedly justifying the killing was an intereference with justice on the pending matter and was a gross contempt of court.
The bench however refused to go into other pleas seeking registration of FIR and passing direction for the handing over the investigation to the CBI and shifting the trial of the case outside Gujarat.
The court also asked the Gujarat high court to dispose of the appeal filed against the grant of bail to Rajasthan cadre IPS officer Dinesh M N and N K Amin, DSP with Gujarat police, who were allegedly involved in the killings of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi.
The order seeking explanation from Modi came even as the Bench during the hearing on more than one occasion had said it would be appropriate to put the matter for order on notice after the vacation in January 2008.
However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Gujarat government, refuted the allegation by the petitioner, saying it was simply an election speech and the court should not judge political speeches which are generally rhetoric in nature and till the elections are over there should not be any hasty decision.
Further, he said Election Commission was also seized with two complaints on the issue of speech given during the election rally and it would have a bearing on its proceedings.
The senior advocate said Modi's speech should be seen as a counter or a response to an attack by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi [Images] who allegedly had described him as a merchant of death.
He opposed the urgency shown in hearing the matter for issuing notice and questioned the locus standi of lyricist Javed Akhtar in filing the application seeking the registration of an FIR against Modi for his alleged inflammatory speech.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter and senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Rubabuddin, countered the Gujarat government's contention stating that there was no ground to adjourn the matter as proceedings before Election Commission was different.
"It (statement of Modi) is plainly an interference with the proceedings pending before this court and notice should be issued," Subramanium said.
Dave, while pressing for issuance of notice said, "The court is only examining whether there is a contempt or not and whether the course of justice has been polluted or not."
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for Akhtar alleged that the chief minister has not only justified the killing of Sohrabuddin, but tacitly admitting his role in the fake encounter.