Gujarat riots: No more adjournments, says Supreme Court on Zakia Jafri’s plea against SIT clean chit to Modi

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will not entertain any further adjournments in hearing a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra riots.

The Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar posted the case to October 26 after senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the listing of the case was quite unexpected and he was yet to complete the filing of records.

Mr. Sibal said he was “personally embarrassed” to seek an adjournment. “There are 23,000 pages of records,” the senior lawyer said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the case had been adjourned for nearly a year-and-a-half for the same reason and should not be rescheduled again.

The case has seen several adjournments spanning months. At one point in an earlier hearing, Justice Kahnwilkar had orally remarked, “We cannot keep adjourning this. We have to hear it someday…”

Ehsan Jafri, the former MP, was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.

On February 8, 2012, the SIT had filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Mr. Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.

Ms. Zakia Jafri had filed a petition in the apex court in 2018 challenging the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the decision of the SIT.

The plea also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, Ms. Zakia Jafri filed a protest petition which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering “substantiated merits”.

It also said the high court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint which was independent of the Gunbarrel Society case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.

The high court in its October 2017 order had said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court. However, it partly allowed Ms. Zakia Jafri’s petition as far as its demand for a further investigation was concerned.

It had said the petitioner can approach an appropriate forum, including the magistrate’s court, a division Bench of the high court, or the Supreme Court seeking further investigation.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Disclaimer: Gujarat riots: No more adjournments, says Supreme Court on Zakia Jafri's plea against SIT clean chit to Modi - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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