Friday, April 20, 2012

Curtains for Gulbarg case; Modi unscathed

Curtains for Gulbarg case; Modi unscathed
Deccanherald 11APR2012

Absolved for lack of evidence, says court
In an election year, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may have got a shot in the arm as a magistrate court here noted on Tuesday that  the Special Investigation Team's (SIT) final report on the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre case found no evidence against him or the 62 accused in the complaint filed against them by Zakia Jafri in the riots.
The Ahmedabad metropolitan court said the SIT had filed a closure report on Modi's alleged involvement in the riot case. The court also ordered the SIT to provide a copy of the report by May 10 to Zakia Jafri, whose husband, Congress MP Ehsan Jafri had died along with 68 in the Gulbarg Society carnage.
The court of metropolitan magistrate M S Bhatt passed the order after going through the 40,000-odd page report submitted before the court by the SIT after its investigation against Modi and 62 top bureaucrats, politicians and police officers.

Magistrate Bhatt pronounced the order on Zakia's application, observing that the Supreme Court had made it clear that the complainant had to be provided a closure report against the accused.
“According to the SIT, no offence has been established against any of the people listed in Zakia's complaint," the court said. Modi was on the top of the list named in the complaint. 
“Therefore, as per the Supreme Court's order and principle of natural justice, the complainant has to be given a copy of the report and related documents,” it said.  No notice was needed to be issued to Zakia as she had already approached the court seeking a copy of the report.

Zakia had filed a complaint against Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officials and BJP functionaries accusing them of a wider conspiracy in the 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, had been killed.
The apex court had ordered an inquiry into the complaint filed by her and appointed the SIT headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan to probe it. The SIT submitted its report to the Supreme Court after investigating Zakia's complaint,during which it questioned several people, including Modi. The Supreme Court, after going through the report, asked amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran to independently verify the SIT's findings. Ramchandran too submitted his report to the Supreme Court.
After going through both reports, the Supreme Court directed the SIT to submit a final report, along with the entire material collected by it, to the metropolitan magistrate's court. The SIT submitted its final report on February 28, this year. In its order dated September 12, 2011, the Supreme court said if the SIT found no sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds for proceeding against any person named in the complaint, the court shall, before taking a final decision on such 'closure' report, issue notice to the complainant and make available to her copies of the statements of the witnesses, other related documents and the investigation report.
Zakia Jafri pained
Reacting to the SIT's closure report, Zakia said she was pained and disappointed but vowed to continue her battle for justice. “In the court of the Lord above, justice can get delayed but not denied. I am sure that truth will come out and I will get justice,” she said. “It is a huge disappointment as the SIT has filed a closure report, our worst fears have come alive,” Teesta Setalvad of the NGO Citizen for Peace and Justice, working for the riots victims, said.
The former MP's son Tanvir said he had apprehensions about the SIT filing a closure report. “The SIT says that there is no evidence against Modi, not the court. SIT's judgment is not of any value if the magistrate decides against it. We are going to fight it out,” he said.

Timeline of Zakia Jafri plea
* March 3, 2008: Former Congress MP Eshan Jafri's widow Zakia Jafri approaches the SC, seeking a probe against  Modi and 61 others for their role in the Gujarat riots
* May 2010: Dissatisfied with the SIT report, the SC asked the amicus curiae to make an independent assessment 
* May 2011: The amicus curiae submitted his final report 
* September 2011: The SC refused to pass order on Modi and directed the magistrate of Ahmedabad to decide the case
* February 8, 2012: The SIT filed a final report 
* February 9, 2012: Jafri files fresh petitions seeking copies of the SIT report
* April 10, 2012: Court  observes SIT has filed closure report with no evidence against Modi and will now, according to the SC directions, hand over copy of report to Jafri