Udayavni Special

Gujarat riots: SC adjourns hearing on Zakia Jafri’s plea against SIT clean chit to Modi


PTI, Apr 13, 2021, 1:00 PM IST

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned by two weeks the hearing on a plea of Zakia Jafri, the wife of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the Special Investigation Team (SIT) clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said the matter would be listed after two weeks as the petitioner has circulated a letter seeking adjournment in the case.

The apex court had on March 16 posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday and said that it would not entertain any more request for adjournment.

The bench had last month taken note of the request of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Jafri, that the matter be heard sometime in April as several advocates were busy in the Maratha reservation case which was then being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, had then opposed the plea for adjournment.

The top court had in February last year fixed the case for hearing on April 14, 2020, saying the matter had been adjourned many times and will have to be heard someday.

Prior to this, Jafri”s counsel had told the apex court that notice needs to be issued in the plea as it relates to an alleged “larger conspiracy” from February 27, 2002, to May 2002.

Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.

On February 8, 2012, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had filed a closure report giving a clean chit to Modi, now the prime minister, and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.

Zakia Jafri had filed a petition in the apex court in 2018 challenging the Gujarat High Court”s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the decision of the SIT.

The plea also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, the petitioner filed a protest which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering “substantiated merits”.

It also said the high court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint which was independent of the Gulberg case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.

The high court in its October 2017 order said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court. However, it partly allowed Zakia Jafri”s petition as far as its demand of a further investigation was concerned.

It said the petitioner can approach an appropriate forum, including the magistrate’s court, a division bench of the high court or the Supreme Court seeking further investigation.

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