Monday, September 12, 2011

Supreme Court asks local court to decide on Modi probe

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any order on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged inaction to contain the 2002 Gujarat riots after the Godhra carnage and referred the matter to the concerned magistrate in Ahmedabad for a decision.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain directed the Special Investigation Team, which is probing the riot cases, to submit its final report before the magistrate who was asked to decide whether to proceed against Mr. Modi and 62 others, which includes senior government officials.

The bench made it clear that there was no need for it to further monitor the riot cases.

The bench also comprising justices P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam said in case the magistrate decides to drop proceedings against Mr. Modi and others, he has to hear the plea of slain MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Jafri, who had filed a complaint against the Gujarat Chief Minister.

The court passed the order on a petition by Ms. Jafri alleging that Mr. Modi and 62 top government officials deliberately refused to take action to contain riots in the State, triggered by the February 27, 2002 Godhra train carnage.

Ms. Jafri, who lost her husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP in the Gulberg Housing Society massacre during the riots, had told the Supreme Court that a proper probe should be carried out by the SIT, headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan, into her allegations of inaction and various acts of omission and commission by Mr. Modi and others after the riots.

The Supreme Court had earlier handed over the task of probing the case to SIT which submitted its report in the court.

After the SIT filed its probe report in a sealed cover, the court had also asked senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who is assisting it as amicus curiae, to analyse the SIT probe findings and file a confidential report on it.

Mr. Ramachandran subsequently had submitted his report to the court, which passed the order after going through the reports by the SIT and Mr. Ramachandran and referred the case back to the concerned Ahmedabad magistrate to decide the further course of action in the case.

Mr. Ramachandran’s report filed in a sealed cover had analysed the SIT probe findings and evidence adduced by it in the case.

Mr. Ramachandran, assisting the bench in nine riot cases, had submitted his report on the direction of the Supreme Court which had on May 5 sought an “independent overview” of the evidence recorded by the SIT.

The court had asked Mr. Ramachandran to analyse the SIT probe findings, take comments and statements of the witnesses and, if needed, interact with them for an “objective” assessment of the evidence.

The bench had on July 28 said it would pass the order on the basis of the report submitted by the amicus curiae.

The court had also turned down the plea of the State government seeking a copy of the report and said it would be given only at the appropriate stage.

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