The Supreme Court on Monday deferred till the third week of January the hearing on a plea filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigation Team to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots.
Zakia, the wife of Ehsan Jafri, an ex-MP who was killed in one of the worst incidents during the riots, has challenged the Gujarat high court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT’s decision.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Hemant Gupta posted the matter for hearing in the third week of January next year.
The court had previously said that it will also look into the application by social activist Teesta Setalvad on becoming a co-petitioner in Zakia’s plea ahead of hearing the main case.
During the previous hearing, senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the SIT had said that Zakia’s plea was not maintainable and had also raised objections to Setalvad becoming the second petitioner in the case.
He had said that the appeal does not have a single supporting affidavit filed by Jafri and all affidavits filed are by Setalvad, who describes herself as a journalist.
Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for Zakia, had said that the main petitioner is 80-years-old and therefore, Setalvad has been made petitioner number two to assist her.
To this, the court had observed that one need not become a co-petitioner to assist the petitioner, and had said that it will look into the application on making Setalvad as the second petitioner.
Jafri’s counsel had said that notice needs to be issued in the plea as it pertains to the aspect of alleged “larger conspiracy” during the period from February 27, 2002 and May 2002 and had also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, a protest was filed by the petitioner which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering “substantiated merits”.
On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.
Ehsan Jafri was among 68 people killed at the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad when a mob attacked it on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, triggering riots in Gujarat.
“The present Special Leave Petition is filed before this Court against the final judgement and order dated October 5, 2017 passed by the high court of Gujarat... which erroneously upheld the order of the magistrate accepting the closure report filed by the Special Investigative Agency appointed by this Court concerning the violence in Gujarat in 2002,” Zakia, in her plea filed through advocate Aparna Bhat, had submitted.
The plea had further said the high court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint which was independent of the Gulberg case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.
Zakia had sought an interim order to the SIT to carry out further investigation with regard to her complaint and the evidence provided by her before the magistrate through the protest petition.
The high court in its October 5, 2017, order had said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court but had partly allowed Zakia’s petition as far as its demand of a further investigation was concerned.
It had said that petitioner can approach an appropriate forum including the magistrate's court, a division bench of the high court or the Supreme Court seeking further investigation.