Plea against clean chit to Modi: SC to hear Zakia Jafri’s case on Nov 26
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday deferred till November 26 the hearing on a plea filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with 2002 riots in Gujarat when he was the chief minister.
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 Deepak Gupta said that “the matter would take some time for detailed hearing and the plea will be heard on November 26”.
The court also 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.
At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said Zakia’s plea was not maintainable, and raised objection to Setalvad becoming the second petitioner in the case.
“As far as petitioner number 1-Zakia Jafri-is concerned, she was a complainant in the case and she approaching the Supreme Court is understandable. The objection is with respect to petitioner number 2-Teesta Setalvad. She claims to be a journalist but she was nowhere either in the trial court or the high court. How can she jump in like this?,” Rohatgi said.
He said that the appeal does not have a single supporting affidavit filed by Jafri and all the affidavits filed are by Setalvad, who describes herself as a journalist.
“The trial court had given its finding in the matter. The high court also passed its order on the plea and gave a concurrent finding. The issue is of 2002. This can’t go on and on, endlessly. Somewhere it has to stop and the petition must be dismissed,” Rohatgi said.
Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for Zakia, said that the main petitioner is a 80-years-old lady and therefore, Setalvad has been made petitioner number two to assist her.
To this, the court observed that one need not become a co-petitioner to assist the petitioner, and said it will look into the application on making Setalvad as the second petitioner in Zakia’s plea before hearing the main matter next Monday.
During the last hearing, Zakia’s counsel had said that notice needs to be issued in the plea as it pertained to the aspect of alleged “larger conspiracy” during the period from February 27, 2002 and May 2002.
He had pointed out that after the SIT gave a clean chit to Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, in its closure report in the case before a trial judge, a protest plea was filed by Zakia, which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering the “substantiated merits”.
On February 8, 2012, the SIT had filed a closure report, giving the 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 who were 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 returning from Ayodhya at Godhra was burnt, triggering the 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, submitted. (PTI)