The Supreme Court will hear on Monday, November 19, Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging the clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat, and others on allegations of a “larger conspiracy” in the 2002 riots.
Zakia, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots had alleged that there was a larger conspiracy in the riots.
In October 2017, the Gujarat high court had upheld the clean chit given to Modi and 58 others by the Special Investigation Team.
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.
Ehsan Jafri’s killing was possibly the most high-profile of the Gujarat riots cases. Zakia Jafri first petitioned the Supreme Court in 2008 alleging a wider conspiracy. In response, the apex court, which had already ordered an SIT to be constituted to reinvestigate 2002 riots related cases in Gujarat, told SIT to look into Jafri’s complaint.
As investigations in cases progressed, Zakia in 2006 demanded that the police register a police case against Modi, some ministers and bureaucrats as well.
In 2011, the apex court referred the Gulbarg Society massacre to the local district magistrate’s court since it was a local police matter. In 2012, the SIT submitted its report which gave a clean chit to Modi and submitted it to the local magistrate’s court, which accepted the report.
In 2014, Jafri went to the high court challenging the clean chit given by the lower court based on the SIT report and Thursday’s verdict is the court’s response to that petition.
The High Court had then rejected Jafri’s allegation of a larger conspiracy, but had allowed her to challenge the local court’s decision that it had no power to direct the SIT to further probe the matter.
Separately, a special court in June 2016 found 24 people guilty for the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre. While 11 were convicted for murder, 13 were found guilty of lesser offences, including rioting.