SC nod to Zakia for protest petition against SIT report

The Supreme Court today allowed Zakia Jafri to file a fresh protest petition in a trial court against the SIT's closure report reportedly giving clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a 2002 riot case in Ahmedabad in which her husband and ex-Congress MP was killed.

The apex court directed that the widow of slain leader Ehsan Jafri be supplied with entire report of the inquiry by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the 2002 Gulburg Housing Society riot case of Ahmedabad to enable her to file the protest petition.

It clarified that the report shall be supplied without the comments of the SIT chief and she can file a protest petition within two months from the date of receiving the material against the SIT's closure report in the case in which 69 people, including her husband, were killed by a mob on February 28, 2002.

"We clarify that the petitioner (Jafri) is entitled to entire inquiry report placed in sealed envelope before this court on May 12, 2010," a bench comprising justices P Sathasivam, Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said.

It also set aside two orders of the Ahmedabad trial court of July 16 and November 27 of last year.

She had filed an appeal against the orders rejecting her demand for preliminary report filed by A K Malhotra, member of the SIT, in the Supreme Court and accepting the SIT closure report filed on March 13, 2012 in the case respectively.

The bench in its order said that the statement recorded during the inquiry of the complaint filed by Jafri should be treated as the statement recorded under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which involves examination of witnesses.

It also said that the statements recorded during the inquiry would only be used for taking decision on the closure report filed by the SIT into the case.

The apex court made it clear that "the present order is confined to the case in which the complaint was filed by Zakia on June 8, 2006" in which she had sought inquiry against Modi and others with regard to 2002 riots.

Gujarat's Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the state government was not taking adverserial stand in the case. He said six out of the nine cases investigated by the SIT have resulted in conviction.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who was assisting the court as amicus curaie in the matter, said the widow was entitled for entire material sought by her.

The apex court on September 12, 2011 had passed the order relating to supply of documents to Zakia.

It had also asked the SIT, which probed the riot cases including the Ahmedabad Gulburg Housing Society massacre case in which former Congress MP Jafri had been killed, to forward its final report to the local court.

Zakia has filed the petition challenging the trial court's order rejecting her plea for supply of some documents relating to the investigation in the case including the probe report filed by Malhotra.

She was seeking the documents to file a protest petition against the SIT's closure report in the case.

Zakia contended that the court's refusal to allow her access the documents pertaining to the investigation by the SIT into the case was coming in the way of her filing the protest petition against the closure report.

The court was hearing Zakia's appeal against July 16, 2012 order of the trial court, which had rejected her demand for preliminary report filed by Malhotra in the Supreme Court after the inquiry into her complaint against Modi and others with regard to 2002 riots.

Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for Zakia, said the November 27 order of the trial court closing the case and not supplying the documents has jeopardised the victim's right to file a protest petition.

The trial court had said Zakia has lost the right to file a protest petition against the SIT report, which gave a clean chit to Modi, due to lapse of time. It had said despite having been given sufficient time, she had not filed the protest petition.

The court had said Zakia can now only make oral submission regarding her protest against the SIT report.

The SIT had submitted its final report in the apex court regarding Gulburg Society riot case in March, 2012.

The SIT had provided a copy of the report to Zakia in May asking her to file a protest petition within the stipulated time of two months. Zakia, however, had not filed the protest petition.

The SIT was formed by the Supreme Court to investigate Zakia's allegation that Modi, other ministers of his cabinet, police officers and members of some right wing organisations were behind the larger conspiracy of the 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

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