Ahmedabad(PTI): In a big relief for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT has given him a clean chit in the post-Godhra Gulberg massacre case and sought its closure as it found no evidence against him.
“According to SIT, no offence has been established against any of the 58 persons listed in Zakia’s complaint,” Metropolitan magistrate M S Bhatt said in his order today on a batch of petitions in which Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among 69 persons killed in the Gulberg society carnage, had named Modi and 57 others for alleged criminal conspiracy in the 2002 riots.
The court ordered that a copy of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report and related documents be given to Zakia within 30 days giving her the right to pursue her private criminal complaint against Modi and others. It will now have to decide whether to accept or reject the closure report after hearing the complainant.
“Therefore, as per the Supreme Court’s order and principles of natural justice the complainant has to be given copy of the report and related documents,” it said, adding no notice was needed to be issued to Zakia as she had already approached the court seeking a copy of the report.
“It is hereby ordered that as per Supreme Court order Zakia will be given copies of the investigation report, statements of witnesses and all related documents within 30 days of this order.”
Zakia had filed a complaint against Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officials and BJP functionaries accusing them of wider conspiracy in the riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, had been killed. The apex court had ordered an inquiry into the complaint filed by her and appointed the SIT headed by R K Raghavan to probe it.
Reacting to the SIT’s closure report, Zakia said she was “pained” and vowed to continue her battle for justice while BJP said the 2002 riots cannot be used as a “bogey” to sustain the campaign against Modi.
Raghavan said the complainant will have an opportunity to contest the findings of the SIT report.
“We have filed a report saying no evidence on the contents of the particular petition was available and we have recommended closure,” he said.
“We have done our duty to the best of our abilities,” he said, adding the integrity of the team cannot be questioned in arriving at its conclusion.
Raju Ramachandran, appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae(friend of the court), hoped his independent report on the SIT document will be also given to the complainant, who has a right to file a “protest petition” in court.
Refusing to disclose the contents of his report, Ramachandran said he has given an “independent assessment” on the SIT report
The SIT had submitted its report to the Supreme Court after conducting investigations into Zakia’s complaint during which it questioned several people, including Modi, who was quizzed for more than nine hours.
The Supreme Court after going through the report had Ramchandran to independently verify the SIT’s findings. He had also submitted his report to the Supreme Court.
The apex court had after going through both the reports directed the SIT to submit a final report, along with the entire material collected by the it, to the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate. The SIT submitted its final report on February 28.
In its order dated September 12, 2011, the Supreme court had said that if the SIT found there was no sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds for proceeding against any person named in the complaint, the court shall, before taking a final decision on such ‘closure’ report, issue notice to the complainant and make available to her copies of the statements of the witnesses, other related documents and the investigation report.
Reacting to the SIT’s closure report, Zakia said she was “pained” and vowed to continue her battle for justice.
“In the court of the Lord above, justice can get delayed but not denied. I am sure that truth will come out and I will get justice,” she said.
Acknowldeging that the path ahead was difficult, she said,” court follows the truth and I have full faith in it.”
“It is a huge disappointment as the SIT has filed a closure report, worst fears have come alive,” Teesta Setalvad of the NGO Citizen for Peace and Justice, working for the riots victims, said.
“Amicus Curiae Raju Ramchandran had also submitted a report on the SIT findings, we have to see that whether that report has been included by the SIT in the final report submitted to the metropolitan magistrate,” Setalvad said.
Setalvad said the court should hear them before taking a final decision on the SIT report.
Tanvir, son of Eshan Jafri, said he had the apprehension about the SIT filing a closure report. “It is SIT which is saying that ( there is no evidence against Modi) and not the court. We had this fear that they are going to file a closure report.
“SITs judgement (sic) is not of any value if magistrate decides against it. It may take time but we are going to fight it out,” he said.
BJP leader Yatin Oza, however, described the closure report as “a big slap” on the face of those who have been criticising Modi “at the behest of our opponents”.