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HC lawyer says SC observations on Zakia appeal ‘questionable’

Addressing mediapersons, advocate Yagnik, said, “Did thousands die or not (during the 2002 riots)? Thousands were displaced or not (during the 2002 riots)? Hindus and Muslims were burnt or not (during the 2002 riots)?...”

Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad news, Gujarat, Gujarat news, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsActivists from PUCL in Ahmedabad on Monday. Nirmal Harindran

Gujarat High Court advocate Anand Yagnik on Monday said the Supreme Court’s observations while  dismissing an appeal by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri who was killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots,  were “questionable” and “go beyond” its jurisdiction.

At a gathering of civil society members at his office in Ahmedabad seeking the release of activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP RB Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, Yagnik also pointed out that this is an unprecedented verdict where the SC has observed that pursuing legal remedies is “malicious”.

Dismissing the plea by Jafri against the Special Investigation Team clean chit to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others over allegations of conspiracy in the riots, the Supreme Court, in its judgment three days ago, referred to proceedings being pursued to “keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and said “all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.

Addressing mediapersons, advocate Yagnik, said, “Did thousands die or not (during the 2002 riots)? Thousands were displaced or not (during the 2002 riots)? Hindus and Muslims were burnt or not (during the 2002 riots)?…”

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“This order, particularly the questionable observations, go beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had only one point to decide on — whether an FIR had to be registered or not (against the then state functionaries who had allegedly derelicted their duty). The Supreme Court at the most could have said that there is no prima facie evidence on the basis of the investigation by SIT for registering an FIR,” he said.

“We have never ever come across an instance in a judgement delivered by the Supreme Court which says ‘it (pursuing legal remedies) is malicious’. Where is the ground for them to say it is malicious? ,” said Yagnik.

Indicating the dangerous legal precedent such a verdict is now likely to set, Yagnik added, “During the Emergency and thereafter, the question was, ‘who will police the police’. Now the question is, ‘who will judge the Supreme Court’ and where is the accountability of the Supreme Court? …”

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A day after the judgment, the Gujarat police had arrested human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and retired DGP RB Sreekumar in an FIR lodged on June 25, 11 am, naming Setalvad, Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt as accused.

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Meanwhile, the Ahmedabad police refused permission to assemble at a hotel in Paldi as was planned by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Gujarat and other civil society members of Ahmedabad to show their solidarity with the three named in the FIR.

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Subsequently, following a meeting of PUCL Gujarat and Ahmedabad civil society members, a resolution was passed, demanding expungement of the observations by SC against Setalvad, Bhatt and Sreekumar, and further demanding their immediate release with respect to the fresh FIR lodged post-verdict.

The resolution reads, “It is surprising to us that those who have tried to push the cause of human rights and justice, in particular Ms Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist and journalist, and ex- police officers Shri RB Sreekumar and Shri Sanjiv Bhatt, have been criticised by the Supreme Court along with an observation that they need to be “in the dock”…”

First published on: 28-06-2022 at 04:07:57 am
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