A civil court in Sabarkantha district of north Gujrat has ordered the removal of Narendra Modi’s name from a civil suit in Gujrat Riots that demanded damages for the murder of three British nationals during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Principal Civil Judge of Prantij in Sabarkantha district allowed the application filed by lawyer S S Shah on behalf of Mr.Modi to strike off his name, after noting that he was neither a “necessary or proper party” in the case.
Prime Minister Modi was chief minister of Gujrat at the time and the suit pleaded that he was “constitutionally, statutorily and personally liable for being in complete command of the state machinery” on whose watch the Gujrat riots of 2002 raged for days.
The Court said that the allegations in the plaint to the effect that Mr.Modi(the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002) was liable for the riots were “general, non-specific and vague”.
Mr. Sureshkumar Kaludan Gadhavi, the Principal Civil Judge in the order observed that,
“There is not a single averment showing presence of defendant No.1(Mr.Modi) at the scene of offence at the relevant time or his direct or indirect involvement in the alleged act or any specific role from which reasonable ground for malice or intentional acts or omissions can be found, entitling the plaintiff to claim any legal right or relief against defendant No.1 in his personal or official capacity in the suit”
The Court said that the averments in the plaint were “made cleverly to connect” Modi to the riots and to seek compensation from him. The Court termed the allegations against Mr.Modi “reckless, without any basis” and noted that the plaintiffs have not brought on record the outcome of the criminal trial with respect to the killings and whether Mr.Modi was made an accused in that criminal case of Gujrat Riots.
The court, after observing that there was no substantive material to link the Mr.Narendra Modi in his personal or official capacity with the incident, invoked the powers under Order 1, Rule 10 (2) of the Code of Civil Procedure to strike off his name.
One of the plaintiffs, Mr.Imran Dawood, had therefore directly submitted an affidavit raising objections to the striking off application in Gujrat Riots .
It was stated that the officers of their lawyers – Senior Advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover- were raided by the CBI last year and that the services of their local lawyer Mr. Anwar Malek were no longer available.
“The action(raid) for all intents and purposes is a coordinated strategy especially given the content of the special civil suit and the timing of the action against our lawyers and the timing of the application to remove defendant No.1 from the special civil suit”, said the statement of objection filed by the plaintiffs.
The Court observed that no substantial progress has taken place in the suit of Gujrat Riots filed in 2004 and that the plea of forum non-conveniens was to stall the proceedings.
The plaintiffs are deliberately dragging the suit, the court said.
“I am of the view that striking out name of defendant No.1 would not make any adverse effect on the claim of the plaintiff. A bare reading of the plaint makes it further evident that bald allegations are made against defendant No.1 and none of the averments indicates malice on the part of defendant No.1, which resulted into the incident in question”,the Court said in conclusion.
The case dates back to 2004 when British national Sameema Dawood and others had moved a special civil suit in the local civil court against Modi. The suit had also named then minister of state for home Gordhan Zadaphia and 12 others and had sought Rs 20 crore as damages for the killing of members of her family in the 2002 Gujrat riots.
Dawood’s relatives—Saeed Dawood, Shakeel Dawood and Mohammed Aswat were killed by a mob on a National Highway-8 on February 28, 2002. They were returning to their village Lajpur at Navsari in south Gujarat after visiting Agra and Jaipur when they were attacked, according to the FIR that was registered then in Gujrat Riots.
This incident had taken place a day after 58 kar sevaks died in a fire in the Sabarmati Express as it left Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002.