- Supreme Court dismissed Zakia Jafri’s plea giving clean chit to PM Modi
- Zakia, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who died in the Gulberg massacre, had petitioned for an ad-interim order to the SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe into the matter.
- SIT stated that there was no evidence to support a criminal plot but that the police were complacent and the administration was overburdened.
On February 27, 2002, a crowd consisting of members of the Muslim community set fire to a Sabarmati Express coach that was carrying pilgrims from the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya back to Godhra. On Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed a request for an inquiry into the “bigger conspiracy” connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots, which claimed over 1,000 lives, stating the request lacked merit.
On the 28th of February, 2002, 68 people were killed in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg society, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. This occurred on the day following the Sabarmati Express massacre and ignited riots in the state.
Zakia had petitioned for an ad-interim order to the SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe into the matter under section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) about the complaint dated June 8, 2006, and the evidence placed before the learned through the protest petition dated April 15, 2013.
Earlier, a bench of justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar upheld the Special Metropolitan Magistrate’s decision to deny Jafri’s protest request on the SIT closure report.
The SIT, which the supreme court assigned to look into the issue, disagreed with the contention, claiming that the original complaint by Jafri was ordered by social activist Teesta Setalvad and that there was a diabolical plot behind the complaint to investigate the “bigger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots.
In 2011, the Supreme Court, which oversaw the investigation of the riot cases, instructed the SIT to look into the claims. The SIT submitted the closure report in February 2012. Before appealing to the highest court in 2018, the petitioners unsuccessfully contested the report before a trial court and the Gujarat high court.
The petitioners stated during the hearing in the highest court that they did not want to challenge the closure report against Modi because there was no “undisputed” evidence to support the claim that the bigger plot originated from a meeting he presided over in February 2002.
The petitioners’ senior attorney, Kapil Sibal, said that the accusations against Modi were based on those made by retired police officer Sanjiv Bhat, who claimed to have been present at the meeting. Bhatt was not present during the meeting. Hence the SIT concluded that there was no alternative way to corroborate the claims.
Sibal connected the more prominent conspiracy to government officials, lawmakers, public prosecutors, police, and members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad, two parties affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He referenced the Tehelka magazine sting operation, which SIT did not look into because it was part of a broader plot in which numerous persons were seen confessing to their actions during the riots on tape.
The SIT objected to the bigger conspiracy investigation being reopened. Any attempt to do so, it was said, would have an impact on the outcomes of riot case trials and appeals currently before higher courts. 13 out of the 18 people caught on the tapes gave statements, and the SIT said that this proved the Tehelka sting to be inaccurate.
SIT stated that there was no evidence to support a criminal plot but that the police were complacent and the administration was overburdened.
Tushar Mehta, the solicitor general, charged the petitioners with trying to discredit the government while casting doubt on Setalvad’s qualifications. He claimed that Setalvad wants to continue the probe to keep things hot, which would be an injustice that shouldn’t be supported.