SIT which gave clean chit to Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots case must itself be investigated, Zakia Jafri tells SC

During the hearing held on Thursday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Zakia Jafri, pointed out how officials of SIT as well as police were rewarded handsomely

Zakia Jafri (L), wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in Gujarat riots
Zakia Jafri (L), wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in Gujarat riots

NH Web Desk

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which gave a clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 communal riots, should itself be investigated for rendering conclusions contrary to facts, Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, told the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, representing Jafri, told the top court that the SIT did not do 'investigation' but did a 'collaborative exercise' and its probe was fraught with omissions to protect conspirators.

"The SIT was rendering conclusions contrary to facts they were aware of. In fact, SIT should be investigated. It is true...I am not concerned with individuals. I am concerned with the process. I am only saying SIT did not do its job. It was an act of protection. It did a collaborative exercise," he submitted.

Sibal said that there was evidence in the form of electronic records including call data records of senior police officials and mobs identifying houses of Muslims, all of which pointed towards conspiracy.

But the SIT ignored all of it and did not conduct any further investigation into the and the magistrate and High Court too chose to overlook the same, he contended.

"No investigation into it at all. The SIT has ignored all of this, Magistrate has ignored all of this, High Court has ignored all of this," Sibal said, as per a Bar & Bench report.

The submissions were made before a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar on Jafri's plea challenging the clean chit given by SIT to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The magistrate and Gujarat High Court had accepted the closure report filed by SIT prompting the present appeal before the Supreme Court.

During the hearing today, Sibal pointed out how officials of SIT as well as police were rewarded handsomely.

"All those who collaborated were rehabilitated in a big way. RK Raghavan who headed SIT was made High Commissioner of Cyprus," he said.

He also elaborated on the call data records (CDR) of the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner PC Pandey which showed he was conversing with the accused.

"SIT says he was handling dead bodies of Godhra victims but call data records show he was sitting in office whole day long. Is it his job to handle dead bodies? If he was so concerned, would he have allowed the bodies to be brought by road from Godhra to Ahmedabad and allowed passions to flare up. PC Pandey was one of the worst collaborators. He later became DGP of Gujarat. The journey from accused to DGP is disconcerting," Sibal submitted.

All evidence prima facie points towards conspiracy, he added.

"No judge can say there was no conspiracy. Who all were involved and why, needed further probe," he said.

He reiterated that it was SIT's job to do the same but instead the petitioner had to do it.

Sibal also claimed that there were statements by people belonging to Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh claiming that public prosecutors were acting at their behest.

The hearing is in progress.

The Supreme Court had, in 2008, appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to submit a report on a number of trials in Gujarat Riots and subsequently also ordered the SIT to investigate the complaint that was filed by the petitioner.

In 2011, the SIT was directed by the Supreme Court to submit its closure report before the concerned Magistrate, and Jafri was given the liberty to file her objections, if any, to the said report.

In 2013, after the petitioner was handed a copy of the same, she filed a petition opposing the closure report, which essentially gave a clean chit to several bureaucrats and politicians, including Narendra Modi.

The magistrate upheld the SIT’s closure report and dismissed the petition filed by Jafri. Aggrieved by this, she had approached the Gujarat High Court. In 2017, the High Court upheld the magistrate’s decision and dismissed the petition filed by Jafri.

Jafri and Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ) challenged the same before the top court.

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