India

2002 Gujarat Massacre case: SC adjourns hearing of Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging Modi’s acquittal till January 2019

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The Supreme Court of India adjourned till January third week Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the acquittal of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, and several others in the 2002 Godhra massacre case.

On November 26, the plea came up before Justices A M Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta and the bench had deferred the hearing in the case by a week. Earlier, the hearing was deferred by a week on November 19.

Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was killed by a mob which attacked the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on the afternoon of February 28, 2002.

On October 5, 2017, the Gujarat High Court acquitted then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and other politicians and senior bureaucrats by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in its closure report, statingg lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them as a reason.

Zakia Jafri had challenged the 2017 order.

The Gujarat High Court, last year, upheld the judgment of the metropolitan court and rejected Zakia’s allegations that cases such as Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulberg were part of a “larger conspiracy”. Five years after the Gujarat riots, Zakia had made allegations against Modi and the officers from the state machinery.

In 2012, a metropolitan court acquitted all 58 accused in the post-Godhra massacre in which 69 people were killed. “According to the SIT, no offence has been established against any of the 58 persons listed in Zakia’s complaint,” metropolitan magistrate MS Bhatt had then said. The petitioners had then moved the High Court against the acquittal in 2013.

The petition by Zakia says she in her case had levelled allegations against various bureaucrats, police officers and political leaders for alleged “conspiracy, abetment and hate speech” culminating in the 2002 violence. Zakia says in her petition that “as contemporaneous official data began to be released, including the intelligence collected by the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), it transpired that the SIB had information about systematic movements of ‘kar sevaks’ and accumulation of arms, which was ignored and facilitated by inaction”.

At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the SIT, said Zakia’s plea was not maintainable and that “it is an issue of facts and for how long it can go on.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court there were concurrent findings of the subordinate court and the High Court as well rejecting the plea of petitioner Zakia.

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