SC paves way for Gujarat riot verdicts

Bench reposes trust in Special Investigation Team

A three-judge special bench of Justices D K Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam also refused to change the Special Investigation Team (SIT). “At this stage it is not possible to change the SIT. We repose confidence in the present team,’’ said the bench.

The apex court had prevented the trial court from pronouncing its judgment in the case relating to the killing of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey in which Chief Minister Narendra Modi was questioned by the SIT.

The bench also allowed Advocate Prashant Bhushan to withdraw from the case, as there was an application by Gujarat government opposing his appointment by an earlier bench as the amicus curie.

Gujarat’s application sought Bhushan’s recusal from the case alleging that he was biased and had strong views against Modi and the BJP government in the state.

The court on May 6 stayed the pronouncement of judgment in the Gujarat riot cases following allegations of botched investigation and demand for re-constitution of SIT. It had passed the stay order after allegations were made about lapses in investigations being conducted by SIT into the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

The bench had then appointed A K Malhotra, a former DIG of CBI, to verify allegations of lapses in investigations by SIT in the case.

The top court also refused to hear the submission of Ram Jethmalani who opposed the probe against Modi and others in the Gulberg society case without issuing notice to them. “It is unknown in criminal jurisprudence that direction is given without hearing the accused in a Special Leave Petition challenging a high court order,’’ Jethmalani said.

The SC also issued notice to Gujarat government on the plea for transfer of the judge dealing with the Gulberg society case relating to the killing of Ehsan Jaffrey. It was alleged that the judge was biased, favouring the accused and humiliating the witnesses, including Zakia Jaffrey, wife of the slain former MP. The 10 cases being monitored by SIT on the earlier directions of the Court are: Gulberg Society, Ode, Sardarpura, Narodao Gaon, Naroda Patya, Baranpura, Machipith, Tarsali, Pandarwada and Raghavapura.

Jaya Prada, Amar expulsion case in SC

The Supreme Court will hear on November 9 petitions by former Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Jaya Prada challenging their suspension from the party under the anti-defection law, DHNS reports from New Delhi.

A bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir has sought the assistance of Attorney General Ghulam E Vahanvati in the matter. The petitioners on Monday were directed to provide  copies of the petitions to Vahanvati. Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Singh, said the suspension of the Samajwadi Party leaders are illegal and unconstitutional. “A member of Parliament has a right to criticise the party and such criticism do not invite suspension from the party,’’ he said.

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