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2002 Gujarat riots case: SC to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea against Modi’s clean chit

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear on November 26 the plea of Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by a Special Investigating Team to Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, pertaining to the “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots. A Bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, cited paucity of time to post the case later.

Ms. Jafri, wife of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, has challenged the October 5, 2017 verdict of the Gujarat High Court dismissing her plea challenging the SIT’s closure report.

The high court had upheld a magisterial court’s verdict, accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to the then Chief Minister and others, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.

Jafri, whose ex parliamentarian husband was among the 69 people massacred in Gulbarg society during the 2002 riots, has also sought for an order to the SIT to carry out further investigation in the case.

During the hearing, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the SIT, said that both the magistrate court and high court has passed their orders on the issue. Mr Rohatgi objected to the inclusion of second petitioner, Ms Teesta Setalvad in the case as she was neither present as a party in the trial or high court.

Jafri’s counsel 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.

“The High Court failed to consider the inaction on part of the SIT to investigate the prelude and build-up (activities like communal mobilization and arms importation into Gujarat) to the violence unleashed post-Godhra,” the plea said.

It contended that “the High Court erred by failing to appreciate that the larger conspiracy is evident by taking an overarching view of the various incidents and the present case should not have been adjudicated by narrowly limiting the allegation of the Petitioners to isolated incidents, which are the lacunae which plagues the order of the Magistrate”.

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