SC dismisses Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging SIT clearance for PM Modi

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the report of a Special Investigation Team that had cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a case pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat riots, Live Law reported.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar upheld the decision of a magistrate to accept the Special Investigation Team’s closure in a case pertaining to an alleged larger conspiracy behind the riots. The court held that the petition was devoid of merits.

Zakia Jafri had challenged the Special Investigation Team’s report that had cleared 64 people, including Modi, in the case. Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time.

Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people who were killed when a mob went on a rampage in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg society on February 28, 2002, pelting stones and setting fire to homes.

The Supreme Court had reserved its verdict on December 9.

During the hearings in the case, Zakia Jafri’s counsel Kapil Sibal had argued that the Special Investigation Team did not examine all the material and alleged that the State had helped propagate hate, according to Bar and Bench. He said that police personnel, bureaucrats and politicians had been exchanging messages over mobile phones. However, the phones were not seized and their contents were not examined, he claimed.

Sibal also referred to a statement by Rahul Sharma, the former superintendent of police at Bhavnagar, that a newspaper in the city had urges Hindus and Hindutva organisations to retaliate against Muslims. However, no action was taken against the newspaper, he said.

On the other hand, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Special Investigation Team, said that former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani was arrested and convicted in a case related to the riots. “She was in jail for so many years,” he said. “If SIT was partisan, then why would they arrest a sitting minister?”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that activist Teesta Setalvad, who was one of the petitioners, took advantage of Jafri’s plight to “keep the pot boiling”.

The Special Investigation Team had submitted its closure report on February 8, 2012, saying there was no prosecutable evidence against accused persons, including Modi, in the riots cases.

In 2013, when Jafri had filed a petition opposing the closure report, the magistrate, who had received the report, upheld it and dismissed her petition.

She had then moved the Gujarat High Court. In 2017, the High Court upheld the magistrate’s decision and dismissed her plea.

Jafri then moved the Supreme Court that said it would examine the closure report.

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