New Delhi, Mar 16 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today fixed for hearing on April 13 the plea of Zakia Jafri, wife of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the SIT’s clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots, saying that it would not entertain any request of adjournment on the next date.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Jafri, asked the three-Judge bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Krishana Murari, to adjourn the matter to April, as many lawyers were busy in another important matter going on before a constitutional bench.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, opposed Mr Sibal’s plea for adjournment and sought hearing of the case for the next week itself.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Special Investigation Team (SIT), also opposed the letter for adjournment, and said the matter should be decided.
The court directed that the case be put up for hearing on April 13. “No request for adjournment will be entertained,” it said.
The Supreme Court had, in February last year, fixed the case for hearing on April 14, 2020, saying the matter had been adjourned many times and will have to be heard someday.
Prior to this, Jafri’s counsel had told the apex court that a notice needs to be issued in the plea, as it relates to an alleged “larger conspiracy” from February 27, 2002 to May, 2002.
Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.
On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Mr Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.
Zakia Jafri filed a petition in the apex court in 2018, challenging the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order, rejecting her plea against the decision of the SIT.
The plea also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, the petitioner filed a protest, which was dismissed by the Magistrate, without considering “substantiated merits”.
It also said the High Court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint, which was independent of the Gulberg case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.
The High Court, in its October, 2017 order, said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court.
However, it partly allowed Zakia Jafri’s petition, as far as its demand of a further investigation was concerned.
It said the petitioner can approach an appropriate forum, including the Magistrate’s court, a Division Bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court, seeking further investigation. ILNS/ SNG/JR