The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has found no evidence against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 61 others in the complaint filed against them by Zakia Jafri in the 2002 Gujarat riots,a Magisterial court said today.
The Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court said the SIT had filed a closure report on Modi’s alleged involvement in the riot case. The court also ordered the SIT to provide a copy of the bulky report by May 10 to Zakia Jafri. Zakia’s husband,Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 68 others had died in the Gulberg Society carnage.
The court of Metropolitan Magistrate,M S Bhatt,passed the order after going through the 40,000-odd page report that was submitted before the court by the SIT after its investigation against Modi and the 61 others,among whom are top bureaucrats,politicians and police officers.
The report was submitted under directions of the Supreme Court after a detailed investigation was carried out by SIT to probe the alleged complicity of Modi. Zakia had sought a copy of the report,which was fiercely opposed by the SIT.
Magistrate Bhatt on Tuesday pronounced the order on Zakia’s application,observing that the Supreme Court has made it clear the complainant has to be provided a closure report against the accused.
“According to SIT,no offence has been established against any of the people listed in Zakia’s complaint,” the court said. Modi was on the top of the list named in the complaint.
“Therefore,as per the Supreme Court’s order and principle of natural justice,the complainant has to be given copy of the report and related documents,” it said,adding no notice was needed to be issued to Zakia as she had already approached the court seeking a copy of the report.
“It is hereby ordered that as per Supreme Court order Zakia will be given copies of the investigation report,statements of witnesses and all related documents within 30 days of this order.”
Zakia had filed a complaint against Modi,his ministerial colleagues,top police officials and BJP functionaries accusing them of a wider conspiracy in the 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 people,mostly Muslims,had been killed.
The apex court had ordered an inquiry into the complaint filed by her and appointed the SIT headed by R K Raghavan to probe it.
Since it is clear the SIT has filed a closure report against all accused,SIT counsel R S Jamuvar hinted at possible recommendations against those accused in the complaint. When asked if the SIT had given Modi a clean chit,Jamuvar said,I can’t say it is a clean chit. But,there are a lot of points in the report,based on which a lot of departmental inquiries can be initiated against those who are accused in the case.
The SIT had submitted its report to the Supreme Court after conducting investigations into Zakia’s complaint during which it questioned several people,including Modi,who was quizzed for more than nine hours.
The Supreme Court,after going through the report,had asked amicus curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramchandran to independently verify the SIT’s findings. Ramchandran had also submitted his report to the Supreme Court.
The apex court,after going through both reports,directed the SIT to submit a final report,along with the entire material collected by it,to the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate. The SIT submitted its final report on February 28.
In its order dated September 12,2011,the Supreme court had said if the SIT found no sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds for proceeding against any person named in the complaint,the court shall,before taking a final decision on such ‘closure’ report,issue notice to the complainant and make available to her copies of the statements of the witnesses,other related documents and the investigation report.
Reacting to the SIT’s closure report,Zakia said she was “pained” and vowed to continue her battle for justice.
“In the court of the Lord above,justice can get delayed but not denied. I am sure that truth will come out and I will get justice,” she said.
Acknowledging the path ahead was difficult,she said,”Court follows the truth and I have full faith in it.”
“It is a huge disappointment as the SIT has filed a closure report,our worst fears have come alive,” Teesta Setalvad of the NGO Citizen for Peace and Justice,working for the riots victims,said.
“Amicus Curiae Raju Ramchandran had also submitted a report on the SIT findings. We have to see whether that report has been included by the SIT in the final report submitted to the metropolitan magistrate,” Setalvad said.
She said the court should hear them before taking a final decision on the SIT report.
Tanvir,son of Ehsan Jafri,said he had apprehensions about the SIT filing a closure report. “The SIT says that (there is no evidence against Modi),not the court. We feared they would file a closure report.
“SIT’s judgement is not of any value if the magistrate decides against it. It may take time,but we are going to fight it out,” he said.
BJP leader Yatin Oza,however,described the closure report as “a big slap” on the face of those who had been criticising Modi “at the behest of our opponents”.