Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SIT in the probe against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in a 2002 Gujarat riots case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday

Pointing out that the inferences of Special Investigation Team chief R.K. Raghavan did not match the findings of the SIT in the probe against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in a 2002 Gujarat riots case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked it to examine the observations of the amicus curiae and consider conducting a further probe into the complaint by Zakia, wife of the slain former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffrey.

Acting on the complaint, which alleged that Mr. Modi and 62 others orchestrated post-Godhra communal riots in 2002 in connivance with police officials and senior bureaucrats, the SIT conducted a probe and submitted its report to the court in May 2010. Thereafter, a Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam appointed senior advocate Raju Ramachandran amicus curiae to examine the SIT report.

During the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Jain told Mr. Raghavan: “We can't brush aside the observations of the amicus curiae. You examine the observations, re-examine the entire evidence recorded and if some more evidence is required to be recorded you may do it.”

Justice Alam told Mr. Raghavan, “Your inferences [on the SIT report] do not match the findings.”

Conspiracy theory

The thrust of the allegations was that there was a conspiracy involving Mr. Modi and other Ministers, senior police officers and officials to commit acts which would provoke and fan communal mob violence, and to render the police and security forces inactive for aiding and abetting in mob violence in the wake of the Godhra train fire.

In its brief order, the Bench said: “A copy of the report submitted by the amicus curiae has already been submitted to the Chairman of the SIT. Let the Chairman examine the observations made by the amicus curiae against each of the findings given by the SIT on the allegations in the complaint.”

It would be “open to the SIT to conduct further investigation if considered necessary in the light of the observations made by the amicus curiae.”

Earlier, when senior counsel Shanti Bhushan appearing for the complainant submitted that a proper first information report be registered, as one of the officers Sanjeev Bhat would give a statement only if a case was registered.

When Justice Jain asked him on what basis he was making such a plea, counsel said the entire SIT report had been published in Tehelka magazine.

Justice Jain said: “We can't go by these reports. We are surprised and shocked that a report which was directed to be a kept in a sealed cover goes to the press and is published.”

When counsel said the SIT report should be made public in the public interest, he said, “We have not given the report to anyone. Don't presume certain things.”

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