Apex Court says it would like to look through the Special Investigation Team report regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots case

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A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar commenced the hearing on the plea of Zakia Jafri, the wife of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging the SIT's clean chit with her lawyer Kapil Sibal submitting, We are not concerned with high dignitaries. There is nothing political. We are on law and order and the rights of an individual. Kapil Sibal said the magistrate court had not considered Zakia Jafri’s protest petition against the SIT report. He said even the SIT, in its report, had not restricted itself to the Gulberg Society incident. The senior lawyer said that he did not want conviction of the persons named in Jafri's complaint at the moment and his case was that there was a larger conspiracy where there was bureaucratic inaction, police complicity, hate speeches and unleashing of violence. While Sibal was making the submissions, the bench, which also comprised Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, said we want to see the justification given in the closure report (of the SIT). We want to see the order of the magistrate and his reasoning in accepting the report. “There were people who were massacred due to police inaction. I am giving you official evidence. Who will be answerable for this? The future generations?,” said Sibal. “There are 23,000 pages worth of documents we have been collecting. A republic stands or falls depending on what the court decides. We cannot trust anyone but the judiciary and courts,” he said. The senior advocate referred to the apex court's orders, reports of the SIT and amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran to show that the clean chit and its subsequent acceptance by the courts below were not restricted to the Gulberg Society case in which Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. We have made endeavours to show to the court that the SIT's reports were not limited to the Gulberg Society massacre and even the complaint of Zakia Jafri and the closure report were not confined to one case alone, Sibal said, adding that the lower courts refused to consider the materials. Ehsan Jafri, the former MP, 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 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, Zakia Jafri filed a protest petition 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 Society case registered at a Police Station in Ahmedabad. The high court in its October 2017 order had said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court. However, it partly allowed Zakia Jafri's petition as far as its demand for a further investigation was concerned. It had 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. As notice is yet to be issued in the matter, which is pending before the Supreme Court since 2018, Sibal said he wanted the SIT to probe on Zakia’s complaint submitted to the additional director general of police in June 2006 and explore whether there was a larger conspiracy behind the riots. The SIT had found no prosecutable evidence against Modi, other members in the state government, bureaucracy and police. For this purpose, the court will examine the closure report of SIT on Wednesday as the arguments remain inconclusive. The bench will resume hearing on Wednesday through virtual mode.