Nanavati panel allows cross-examination of Bhatt on May 16

The NGO had last month moved the application before the commission requesting summoning and cross examination of Bhatt over alleged complicity of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the post-Godhra riots.

Bhatt, in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court last month, had claimed he attended the meeting held by Modi on February 27, 2002 where the chief minister allegedly instructed his officers to allow Hindus to vent out their anger during communal clashes.

"We have evidences and statements of some people who were present in the meeting (of February 27, 2002). Bhatt also falls under the same category," Justice G T Nanavati, who is heading the commission, said.

The commission has already summoned Bhatt for examination on May 16.
"It would be his (Bhatt's) word against their's. Let the truth come out," Nanavati further said.

"Considering that Bhatt has already filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, he could be cross examined," Nanavati said allowing JSM to cross examine the IPS officer on May 16, the day when the commission has summoned him.

The commission also said that after examining Bhatt it could record his statement and treat him as a witness.

Justice Nanavati further clarified that all the proceedings of the panel will take place in open court, be it examination of Bhatt or cross examination either by JSM or the state government.

"I do not know how some of the media reports said that the examination of Bhatt would be done in-camera," Nanavati said, adding that the commission's proceedings were always held in an open court.

Some of the officials of the panel had earlier said questioning of Bhatt will be done in-camera.

The JSM's application, contending the deposition of Bhatt "would be very important and material evidence" on deciding the role and conduct of the chief minister and others, was opposed by the state government.

Counsel for state government Devang Vyas, in a written reply to Nanavati commission while opposing JSM application, contended that it was 'misconceived' and 'untenable' in law.

Vyas further said JSM did not have legal right to prefer or maintain the present application on the grounds that the organisation's similar application, demanding summoning of Modi and two others for cross-examination, had been rejected by the commission in September 2010.

The commission asked Vyas, "how could JSM's application hurt the government, when it should be the first one to cross-examine Bhatt for the revelations made in his affidavit in the apex court", while dismissing its demand for rejecting the NGO's plea.

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