25, May 2016
Photo credit: Zee News
Special Judge PB Desai will pronounce judgement in the famed Gulberg Society Trial on June 2, 2016. The trial that began in September 2009 was stayed for a few months after Special PP, RK Shah quit in February 2010 making serious allegations against both the sitting judge and officers of the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Hearings had resumed thereafter before a new judge but the verdict had been stayed by the Supreme Court. In its last order dated February 22, 2016 the apex court had directed completion of the trial within three months.
Sixty-nine persons including former parliamentarian Ahsan Jafri had been brutally killed in an eight-hour-long, daylight massacre that took place on February 28, 2002. Survivor eyewitnesses had deposed about the repeated attempts by Ahsan Jafri to call for help from top policemen and political leaders.
Survivor, Rupabehn Modi, a victim-survivor of the Gulberg Society massacre and Prosecution Witness (PW Nos. 107) had filed repeated applications against the delays in the ongoing trial (Sessions Case Nos 152/2002).
The trial had stood suspended since July 2012 ever since the SIT has challenged two orders of the trial court passed in May and June 2012 in favour of the eye-witnesses. Strangely, though the SIT had been appointed because survivor witnesses had approached the Supreme Court for transfer of investigation, survivors had repeatedly complained of hostility from SIT officers.
In 2009, survivors backed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had approached the Supreme Court for a re-constitution of the SIT when it was found that key documentary evidence was being deliberately kept away from the investigations. In September 2009 itself SM Vohra advocate for the survivors had obtained an order of the trial court to ensure that all documentary evidence would come on record. This included phone call records and other crucial evidence.
In the major Gujarat 2002 communal carnage cases in which the trials have been completed — Best Bakery, Bilkees Rasool, Sardarpura, Ode (1&2), Dipda Darwaza, Naroda Patiya — over 126 of those held guilty have been given life sentences. The convicted include former BJP minister, Dr Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi.
Credit: Sabrangindia https://sabrangindia.in/article/judgement-gulberg-society-trial-be-pronounced-june-2