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Home > India > News > PTI

Don't blame us for delay in Godhra cases: SC

February 19, 2008 19:43 IST

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Coverage: The Gujarat Riots

An anguished Supreme Court on Tuesday took umbrage at social activists attempting to blame it for the delay in hearing Gujarat riots cases saying it was 'shameful' and 'not in good taste.'

The apex court particularly voiced its displeasure over some recent articles written by Social activist Teesta Setalvad in which she reportedly questioned judicial efficacy in dealing with riots cases, the hearing of which have been adjourned several times after 2004.

No sooner a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan assembled to hear bail matters of Godhra accused and legal validity of a provision of anti-terror law POTA, the

judges referred to the articles by Setalvad about pending riot matters in the apex court in which her NGO was one of the parties.

"It is not in good taste," the bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari, said referring to the recent article published in some newspapers and weeklies about the post-Godhra riots in which she termed adjournments of hearing as unfair delay.

"Who is this Teesta Setalvad? Is she a spokesperson of these persons or petitioners," it queried, before starting the proceedings on the bail petitions filed by the Godhra accused.

"There is one article that appeared (written by her). If she is representing these persons (Godhra accused) we do not want to hear them," the bench said.

The Chief Justice, who said that her article also appeared in a Malayalam weekly, was particularly perturbed over allegations that hearing on post-Godhra cases were fixed in such a way that it gets adjourned.

"It is shameful," the CJI said and elaborated the process of listing the matters.

"There are 60,000 cases in the Supreme Court. It is not manually done. Everything is done by computer," he said, adding that articles are also being written about the fixing (posting) of the matters.

"We see so many things in media. Sometimes it is educative for us and sometimes we simply ignore them but what is this (Setalvad's article) that the court is not posting their matters or doing something unfair," the bench observed.

At this point, Salve succeeded in pacifying the Bench by saying, "You (bench) should treat it (article) with contempt and ignore it."

Amid the outburst by the bench, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the accused persons, said he had also come across some articles written by her, but she was not associated with the matter in hand.

Setalvad is connected with NHRC petition in which her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace has also sought transfer of post-Godhra cases outside Gujarat, Salve said.

Setalvad, who is the secretary of the NGO, was also involved in the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano cases, and pursuing a public interest litigation for removal of Gujarat Police Chief P C Pandey.

The court later proceeded with the hearing for examining the constitutional validity of a POTA provision that binds courts to abide by the Review Committee's findings on the applicability of the law, which is now defunct.

The bench is dwelling on the validity of sub section (3) of section 2 of POTA through which an amendment was brought about in section 60 of the Act.

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