Monday, March 15, 2010

SC stays Gulbarg probe, seeks report from SIT on allegations

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed further proceedings in Gulbarg Society trial taking exception to the unceremonious exit of special public prosecutor R K Shah, who had resigned saying he could not bear the noncooperation from SIT and taunts from the trial judge.

Seeking a detailed response from the SIT, headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan and which was constituted by the apex court two years ago to probe 10 sensitive post-Godhra riot cases, a Bench comprising Justices D K Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam took serious note of the flurry of allegations levelled against the working of the investigating team.
Charges flew thick and fast against SIT, which till recently was considered the final word by the apex court as far as investigations into the riot cases went. Things changed dramatically after the indictment of senior police official Geetha Johri by the apex court in the Sohrabuddin encounter case and complaints against the way SIT functioned started pouring in.
NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, amicus curiae Harish Salve and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam were one in demanding that SIT should explain its position and the Bench forwarded the complaints to Raghavan for an answer.
Subramaniam, who said he was assisting the court and was not a “hand maiden of the Centre”, expressed uneasiness at the manner in which things had shaped up for SIT. He said, “Whatever investigation SIT does, it must satisfy the fundamental parameters of fairness”.
Amid high drama, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani pushed in a fresh twist by saying his client and BJP MLA Kalubhai Maliwad had been summoned by SIT, one of whose members is Shivanand Jha who is also an accused in the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of killed former MP Ahsan Jafri.
He said the apex court could not have set up the SIT without hearing the accused as it went against the very tenets of the criminal justice system. Jethmalani said Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may be the target number one but the SIT did not have the power to summon accused as the apex court had only asked the special investigation team to look into Jafri’s complaint.
After seeking the response of SIT to all the allegations, including one filed by Ilyas Hussain Mulla, who alleged that he was tortured by SIT to become a false witness in the Godhra train burning case, the Bench posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of April.

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