The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned to next week the hearing in the SLP preferred by Zakia Jafri, wife of former MP Ahsan Jafri, who was killed in the 2002 Godhra riots, challenging the Gujarat High Court judgment upholding the clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Others in connection with the genocide.
The bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta was of the view that the plea requires a detailed consideration, hence, deferred the hearing.
Insisting that the matter does not call for any consideration, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi advanced, “I am for the SIT. I have a preliminary objection that the appeal is not maintainable. Zakia Jafri made a complaint in 2006, the Supreme Court ordered investigation, she has been to the Magistrate and the High Court....it cannot go on forever”
He also questioned the locus of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad, impleaded as Petitioner no. 2- “The second petitioner is a journalist, a reporter. She was nowhere for twenty years”
When Senior Advocate C. U. Singh, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, sought to justify that Ms. Setalvad wishes to assist the court, Justice Khanwilkar remarked, “you can assist without being a petitioner”
Then the bench decided to hear the matter on November 26.
By partly allowing the revision petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the High Court granted her the liberty to make a prayer for further investigation regarding larger conspiracy angle in the Gulberg Society massacre case occurred during Gujarat riots of 2002.
Ms. Jafri had filed the revision against the order dated 26.12.2013 of the Metropolitan Magistrate which had rejected her complaint alleging that the riots were orchestrated by conspiracy involving top politicians and officials, including the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
While doing so, the Magitrate accepted the closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Supreme Court, which had ruled out conspiracy angle in riots, exonerating the state administration.
Ms. Jafri filed a complaint on 06.08.2006 before the Director General of Police alleging larger conspiracy behind the riots. When no FIR was registered on the complaint, she moved the Gujarat HC, which declined interference. She approached the Supreme Court. Earlier, the Supreme Court had constituted a SIT for monitoring the investigation in riot related cases, as per directions in National Human Rights Commission v. State of Gujarat [(2009) 6 SCC 767], which it required to look into the complaint of Zakia Jafri as well.
Pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court, the SIT conducted further investigation in the Gulbarga Society case under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C regarding the involvement of certain police officials and a then minister of State cabinet, one GordHan Zadafia. As per directions in Zakia Nasem Ahesan v. State of Gujarat and others (2011) 12 SCC 302, the Supreme Court directed the SIT to file report before the court which had already taken cognizance of Gulbarga Society case.
The Magistrate adverted to the materials on record and came to the conclusion that no case was made out to take cognizance on the complaint differing from the report of SIT. The High Court in revision agreed with the Magistrate in holding that there was that there was no material to take cognizance for a fresh complaint of larger conspiracy.
On allegations of the communal riots being result of the hate speeches of Shri Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of State of Gujarat, the High Court noted that all observations made by the SIT, in this regard, have been agreed upon by the trial Court; that The SIT was of the opinion that the statements allegedly made by the then Chief Minister have been twisted, who had urged to maintain peace and order to the public at large and the functioning of the government during chaotic situation also need to be looked into.
The Magistrate endorsed the report. However, the High Court refrained from looking into this aspect as the appeal against the convictions in Gulberg Society case was pending before the High Court, in which the trial court had rejected the theory of larger conspiracy. Hence, the High Court expressed that no interference in the revisional jurisdiction in this issue would be desirable.