The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) is likely to take up the issue of the pending judgment against the 64 accused in the Gulberg Society massacre once it files the quarterly status report next week. Arguments in this case, which is among the nine cases probed by SIT, were completed before two judges but order was not delivered following Supreme Court’s stay since 2010. The two judges have retired while the current judge K K Bhatt will be retiring on September 30.
Sources said that in view of Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the magisterial court order that upheld the clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the stay may not be lifted for another year or so.
“We have to file a quarterly report in the first week week of March in the apex court in which we will inform the court of the delay in pronouncing the order. Any further delay would mean waiting for another year,” sources said.
SIT officials claimed that the apex court order in 2010 does not specifically mention the reason for the stay. However, they said, it is believed that the reason is Zakia Jafri’s petition against Modi and 61 others which SIT probed and found nothing.
Sources said that since the closure report against Modi and others was accepted by the magisterial court on December 26, the stay should be lifted to avoid further delay even if Jafri challenges the order of the lower court in the higher court. Jafri is likely to file an appeal against the magisterial court’s order in March.
Of 64 accused in this case, nine are lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail for the past 12 years. So far two judges BU Joshi and BJ Dhandha have heard the arguments but thy retired without delivering the judgment due to the stay.
Jafri is a former resident of Gulberg Society which was targeted by a violent mob that killed 69 persons including her husband and ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri on February 28, 2002. Jafri had accused Modi and other senior IAS, IPS and BJP leaders as conspirators. The allegation was probed by SIT which gave a clean chit to all the accused while filing the closure report in 2012.