Thursday, July 28, 2011

SC reserves order on overview of SIT report on Gujarat riots

A confidential report analysing the evidence recorded by the SIT about the alleged role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the killing of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri in Ahmedabad during 2002 riots was placed before the Supreme Court on Thursday which reserved its order for passing appropriate directions.

“It is an elaborate report. The amicus curaie has tried to cover all aspects. We have read it. We will pass certain directions. We are keeping it confidential,” a special bench comprising justices D K Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam said.

“We will pass order and indicate future course of action,” it further said.

The bench had sought an “independent overview” of the evidence recorded by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from senior advocate Raju Ramachandran who is assisting it as an amicus curaie in nine riot cases.

It had asked Mr. Ramachandran to analyse the report, take comments and statements of the witnesses and, if needed, interact with them to give an “objective” assessment of the evidence.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Gujarat government, sought a copy of the report for assisting the court saying it was waiting for it as one of the IPS officers has filed an affidavit making allegations against the Chief Minister.

The court had on May 5 declined to take on record the affidavit filed by controversial IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt who had accused Mr. Narendra Modi of having adopted an “anti-minority stance” during the post-Godhra riots.

The bench turned down the plea and said at this stage it was not inclined to share the contents of the report with any of the parties.

It also took on record the two reports of April 24 and May 20 filed by the SIT on the progress of the nine cases in which it said trial in all cases were proceeding satisfactorily and are nearing completion except the one relating to Naroda Patiya.

The court, while seeking an independent overview of the evidence recorded by the SIT, had said that if the amicus curaie, on examining them, comes to the conclusion about the culpability of any person in the case he would be at liberty to mention the names in the report.

The SIT had placed the report in a sealed cover before the court on April 25.

The report was placed in compliance to the March 15 order of the bench which had asked the SIT to further probe the complaint filed by Ehsan Jafri’s wife Jakia Ahsan alleging that Mr. Modi, top politicians, bureaucrats and police officers had engineered the post-Godhra riots in which her husband was also burnt alive by mobs in Gulbarg Society.

The apex court is also seized of the application moved by Gujarat government seeking a recall of April 27, 2007, order directing the SIT to look into the complaint against Mr. Modi and 52 others.

In May 2010, the SIT had submitted a report to the Supreme Court on its probe into a complaint of Zakia Jafri.

The court will also examine the affidavit filed by Mr. Bhatt who had claimed that he had attended the February 27, 2002, meeting called by Modi.

The bench had said Mr. Bhatt’s affidavit would be considered only after it gets an independent analysis of the report of the SIT by Ramachandran.

The SIT in its status report has considered the statement of the IPS officer.

Mr. Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer who was posted as DCP at the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) during the riots, had filed an affidavit on April 14 alleging that Mr. Modi had instructed officers during a meeting on February 27, 2002, to allow Hindus ‘to vent their anger’ during the clashes and he wanted Muslims to be “taught a lesson”.

The SIT has in its status report also mentioned about a letter written by suspended Gujarat IAS official Pradeep Sharma requesting to be allowed to depose on information received from the CM’s office during the period.

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