A letter has been written to the Chief Justice of India to suo motu clarify that its judgment in the Zakia Jafri case was not intended to have any adverse consequences whatsoever.
The development came after the Apex Court recently dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Ehsan Jafri challenging the closure report filed by SIT discarding the allegations of larger conspiracy by high state functionaries including the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the Gujarat riots of 2002 that ensued the Godhra train massacre.
Written by various lawyers and other individuals (304 in total), the letter expresses concern over the imprisonment of activist Teesta Setalvad, former ADGP RB Sreekumar and others, stating that they were being hounded “because they chose to pursue justice for the over 2000 people who were killed in Gujarat in February 2002.”
The letter has been signed by Senior Advocates Chander Uday Singh, Anand Grover and Indira Jaising; Advocates Sanjay Hegde, Anas Tanwir, Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, Avani Bansal; Indian Historian Ramachandra Guha and many others.
“We must express our agony that the state police justify the arrests on the basis of the Supreme Court’s judgment dated 24th June 2022, in the Zakia Jaffrey case,” the letter reads.
The relevant para from the judgment as mentioned in the letter reads thus:
“… At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation. Intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for last 16 years (from submission of complaint dated 8.6.2006 running into 67 pages and then by filing protest petition dated 15.4.2013 running into 514 pages) including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted (to borrow the submission of learned counsel for the SIT), to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design. As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”
In this backdrop, the letter reads that the Apex Court in the said paragraph did not intend to have any legal consequence.
“It is settled law, that any adverse action against a person can be commenced only after giving due notice. The court has neither issued notice of perjury nor contempt, to anyone in these proceedings. In fact, the court has issued no specific notice whatsoever, warning of any adverse consequences,” the letter adds.
The letter further avers that the petitioners or people assisting them, can in no way be blamed for the passage of time, in law’s delay.
“We refuse to believe that our Supreme Court really intended, to sanction in advance, the course of retribution that the current government has chosen to pursue. Even during the emergency, the Supreme Court did not imprison those who sought to use legal processes, by appealing to it. The court may have failed to stand up for the citizen in ADM Jabalpur, but it did not kick down those who chose to fight for citizens’ causes in court,” the letter states.
It adds “We call upon the court, to suo-motu clarify that the above-quoted paragraph in its judgment, was not intended to have any adverse consequences whatsoever. The absence of such clarification may lead to further consequences when bail is sought, by those whom we believe to have been unjustly imprisoned.”
The original piece may be read here