The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Special Investigation Team (SIT) clean chit given to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. The three-judge bench dismissed the challenge to the clean chit filed by slain Congress leader Ahsan Jahri's wife Zakia.
"We uphold the decision of magistrate in accepting the SIT report and the decision to reject protest petition. This appeal is devoid of merits and dismissed accordingly," the bench said.
The top court had reserved its judgment on Zakia Jafri's plea in December 2021 after hearing the matter in detail.
In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court also upheld the Ahmedabad District Magistrate's acceptance of the closure report. Jafri's plea today was a challenge to this decision.
SIT ignored material evidence: Zakia Jafri
Representing Zakia Jafri, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had argued that the investigation showed bias and that the SIT did not examine all the materials pertaining to this matter. Crucial call record details to top cops in the state that proved conspiracy was ignored, Sibal said. The SIT omitted this evidence including to protect the conspirators and they must be probed, Sibal had added.
"…dead bodies were flashed on the TV channels…that obviously led to the anger...Material was circulated to push for an economic boycott of Muslims...The material was given to the SIT, they never looked at it," Sibal had submitted to underscore the point that the state propagated hate against Muslims.
Thoroughly probed cases of the Gujarat Riots: SIT
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the SIT, refuted Zakia Jafri's claim and said all the cases pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat Riots were thoroughly probed.
After completing its probe, the SIT concluded that there was no additional material beyond what was already recorded in the chargesheets that were filed in the nine major cases lodged in this matter, Rohatgi had said.
Rohatgi submitted that "the endeavour of the SIT was to show that SIT conducted its job thoroughly".
The former Attorney General did not dispute the genuineness of the Tehelka tapes—a six-month-long investigation by Tehelka magazine which allegedly proved state complicity in the Gujarat riots—but, he said, the same did not inspire confidence.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Gujarat, said the state did "everything it could" in this matter. Mehta further questioned Teesta Setalvad's—she had also challenged the clean chit—credibility and alleged that the rights activist had embezzled money donated for the riots' victims. Setalvad was the primary force instigating Zakia Jafri and taking advantage of the widow's plight, he added.
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