The lawyer of Zakia Jafri,the widow of Congress leader and 2002 Gujarat riots victim Ehsan Jafri,today alleged that the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s approach conveyed the impression that it “wanted riot culprits to go scot-free”. “It seems that the way SIT was arguing against the petition filed by complainant Zakia Jafri…it wants accused and perpetrators of 2002 riots to go scot-free,” said advocate Sanjay Parikh,arguing before Magistrate B J Ganatra.
Parikh also alleged that the SIT was deviating from the role assigned by the Supreme Court,which was to find out the truth of the “larger conspiracy” behind the post-Godhra riots. Zakia’s petition challenges SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others for their roles in riots as alleged in her 2008 complaint before the Apex court. The petition seeks inquiry by an independent agency other than SIT.
Her husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 70 people,who died in the Gulberg society carnage on February 28,2002 during the riots. “Right after 2002 riots,the Supreme Court,in its various orders and judgements,has mentioned about the element of larger conspiracy behind wide-spread riots and it was also suspicious about the role played by state machinery and that is the reason instead of any state agency the Apex court assigned probe to SIT…” Parikh said.
“If some accused comes before the court and opposes this petition it is understandable. But SIT,which was directed to unearth the truth and book the perpetrators,opposing here is very shocking,” he further said. Parikh also cited Supreme Court judgements during his more than two-hour-long submission to make the point that Magistrate is not bound by the opinion expressed in the final report of investigation agency.
“Magistrate has to decide what prima facie he believes on the basis of material collected and produced by SIT. Whether available material is sufficient for conviction or not can be decided during the trial,” he said. SIT had contended that most material in Zakia’s complaint came from affidavits/ statements before the Justice Nanavati Commission,which,as per the law,cannot be used in other criminal proceedings. Parikh today said as per Commission of Inquiry Act and Criminal Procedure Code,such statements cannot be used during the trial,but the present case was not at trial stage yet. “It’s still at investigation stage and there is no legal bar on adopting those statements here in our complaint or petition,” Parikh argued. Arguments will continue tomorrow.