19, Nov 2018 | Shruti Mahajan
The Supreme Court today adjourned the hearing in the petition filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in relation to the Gujarat Riots of 2002, to November 26.
Zakia Jafri is the wife of former Congress MP Ehshan Jafri, who was killed in the infamous Gulbarg Society Massacre in Gujarat in 2002.
The petition, which came up for hearing before the Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta, challenges the Gujarat High Court’s decision of 2017. The High Court had upheld the decision of the Magistrate to accept the closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case and had thus dismissed the petition filed by Jafri challenging the report.
In the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, a number of petitions were filed. Jafri had filed a complaint before the then Director General of Police of Gujarat in 2006, seeking registration of a First Information Report (FIR) under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Section 302 (Punishment for Murder). The complaint was made against various bureaucrats and politicians, including then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
The intent to file the complaint was to “bring to notice the deliberate and intentional failure of the State machinery which helped perpetuate violence between 28.02.2002 and May 2002.”
The Supreme Court, in 2008, appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to submit a report on a number of trials in Gujarat Riots and subsequently also ordered the SIT to investigate the complaint that was filed by the petitioner.
In 2011, the SIT was directed by the Supreme Court to submit its closure report before the concerned Magistrate, and the petitioner was given the liberty to file her objections, if any, to the said report.
In 2013, after the petitioner was handed a copy of the same, she filed a petition opposing the closure report, which essentially gave a clean chit to several bureaucrats and politicians, including Narendra Modi.
The Magistrate upheld the SIT’s closure report and dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner. Aggrieved by this, the petitioner had approached the Gujarat High Court. In 2017, the High Court upheld the Magistrate’s decision and dismissed the petition filed by Jafri.
Jafri has now, along with activist Teesta Setalvad, approached the Supreme Court challenging this decision to accept the SIT’s clean chit to those named in the case. The petition states,
“The SIT had come to the conclusion that no case was made out and it was accepted by the Magistrate and this finding was erroneously reiterated by the High Court, despite large amount of documentation and contemporaneous evidence that existed which meritoriously made out a triable case against all the accused.”
The petitioners are represented by Senior Counsel CU Singh and Advocate Aparna Bhat, while Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the SIT.
The Court adjourned the hearing in the case today, and the matter will be listed on Monday, November 26.
The original article may be read here.