The Supreme Court on Tuesday began the final hearing of a petition filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) report which gave a clean chit to several high functionaries, including then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
A Bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar is hearing the matter.
Zakia Jafri is a widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was one of the 69 people killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre in 2002. Gulbarg society in an upper-middle-class residential colony in north Ahmedabad. The MP was killed by mobs a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying 59 people was burnt at Godhra. The incident triggered riots in Gujarat. The MP’s bungalow was torched by the mobs who had gathered around the residential colony, where many neighbours had taken shelter for safety. Zakia managed to survive the attack and had since been fighting for justice.
In the court proceedings on October 26, senior advocate Kapil Sibal representing Zakia questioned the SIT’s closure report by calling it selective in recording statements and evidence. “The complaint of Jafri was not limited to only Gulbarg Society. The SIT ignored important evidence like that of (former IPS officer) Sanjiv Bhatt. SIT did not even follow the procedure to record statements,” Sibal argued in court as per legal news portal Bar & Bench.
The SIT was constituted as per the orders of the apex court in 2009. Sanjiv Bhatt, a former IPS officer, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2011, 9 years after the riots, accusing Narendra Modi of being complicit in the 2002 riots. In his affidavit, Bhatt claimed that he had attended a during which Modi allegedly asked top cops to let Hindus vent out their anger against the Muslims during the 2002 riots. The SIT, however, dismissed his allegations.
Moreover, in 2012, the SIT filed its closure report giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others. The report claimed that there was “no prosecutable evidence” against those discharged of charges. Bhatt is now serving a life sentence in relation to the 1990 custodial death case of a Prabhudas Vaishnani.
“SIT had no authority to select which statement was correct when the contrary statement was made,” the senior advocate argued, adding, “I am not on any particular person. This is not a political issue; it is the administrative failure of the state that I am concerned about.”
The court, before scheduling the continuation hearing for tomorrow, stated that they want to see the closure report of SIT accepted by the magistrate.
Zakia had approached the apex court in 2018 challenging the high court’s order rejecting her plea against its decision of the SIT. The Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar posted the case for hearing on October 26. The case has been pending since 2018 and had seen repeated adjournments.