The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till January third week Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the acquittal of Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, and several others in the 2002 Godhra riots case. Zakia Jafri is the widow of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed by a mob which attacked the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002.
On November 26, the plea came up before Justices A M Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta and the bench had deferred the hearing in the case by a week. Earlier, the hearing was deferred by a week on November 19.
Zakia Jafri has challenged an October 5, 2017 judgment of the Gujarat High Court which upheld the clean chit given to several politicians and senior bureaucrats by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in its closure report, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them. The petition further says the High Court refused to interfere with the Magistrate’s order “despite large amount of documentation and contemporaneous evidence that existed which made out a triable case against all the accused”.
At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the SIT, said Zakia’s plea was not maintainable and that “it is an issue of facts and for how long it can go on.” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court there were concurrent findings of the subordinate court and the High Court as well rejecting the plea of petitioner Zakia.
The Gujarat High Court, last year, upheld the judgment of the metropolitan court and rejected Zakia’s allegations that cases such as Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulberg were part of a “larger conspiracy”. Five years after the Gujarat riots, Zakia had made allegations against Modi and the officers from the state machinery.
The petition by Zakia says she in her case had levelled allegations against various bureaucrats, police officers and political leaders for alleged “conspiracy, abetment and hate speech” culminating in the 2002 violence. Zakia says in her petition that “as contemporaneous official data began to be released, including the intelligence collected by the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), it transpired that the SIB had information about systematic movements of ‘kar sevaks’ and accumulation of arms, which was ignored and facilitated by inaction”.
In 2012, a metropolitan court acquitted all 58 accused in the post-Godhra riots in which 69 people were killed.