The Supreme Court will hear next Monday, November 19, Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the clean chit given to Narendra Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots that took place after the Godhra train burning.
Zakia is the wife of slain former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulbarg society massacre during the riots. More than 1000 persons were killed in the riots.
The Gujarat High Court in October last year upheld the magisterial court’s verdict, accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to the Modi and others, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them and rejected Zakia’s allegations that cases such as Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulberg were part of a “larger conspiracy”.
The petition filed by Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad’s Citizens for Justice and Peace had challenged the findings of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT and the ruling of a magistrate court that upheld its closure report of 2012.
Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were killed when a rioting mob attacked their Muslim-dominated Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002 in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage. As investigations in cases progressed, Zakia in 2006 demanded that the police register a police case against Modi, some ministers and bureaucrats as well.
Two years later, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to re-investigate nine major riots cases, including the Gulberg massacre.
On April 27, 2009, the top court asked SIT to look into Zakia’s complaint. The SIT examined Modi in March 2012 and a year later, submitted a closure report that underlined there was no proof to substantiate allegations against Modi was found.
In 2012, a metropolitan court acquitted all 58 accused in the post-Godhra riots in which 69 people were killed. “According to the SIT, no offence has been established against any of the 58 persons listed in Zakia’s complaint,” metropolitan magistrate MS Bhatt had then said. The petitioners had then moved the High Court against the acquittal in 2013.
Hearing the appeal by Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad, Gujarat High Court, while accepting magisterial court’s verdict, held that the petitioner Zakia, whose ex parliamentarian husband late Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people massacred in Gulbarg society during the 2002 riots, can either approach the trial court or the apex court seeking reinvestigation into her allegations against the accused.
“The trial court has self-limited itself in saying that further investigation, in this case, can’t be ordered. This order of lower court deserves interference. So, the petitioner can raise the issue before the concerned court that is the same magisterial court, the division bench of the high court or the Supreme Court,” Justice Sonia Gokani of the HC had said.