INDIA: The Supreme Court dismissed a case on Friday brought by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congressman Ehsan Jafri, that contested the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) clearance of then-Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the riots of 2022.
Zakia Jafri’s appeal is “devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed,” according to a SC panel led by Justice AM Khanwilkar and including Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar.
The Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad was stormed by a mob in reaction when communal riots overtook Gujarat the day after 58 people died when the Sabarmati Express carrying hundreds of karsevaks returning from Ayodhya was set afire on February 27, 2002.
In the Gulbarg Society, 69 individuals were killed. Former MP Ehsan Jafri was one of them.
His wife, Zakia Jafri, filed a lawsuit in an effort to get justice for her husband and the other victims of the racial mob, and she identified former Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as one of the defendants.
As she was hiding in a room on the first floor of their home, Zakia managed to escape the attack. She complained about police inactivity against the rioters in June 2006, four years later.
Her FIR alleged a conspiracy to allow mass killing of Muslims claiming that the police and the bureaucrats did not respond to her husband’s pleas seeking protection. She accused Modi of being part of the conspiracy by abetting the riots.
The SC established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in March 2008, led by former CBI director RK Raghavan, while numerous Gujarat riots cases continued to be investigated by commissions and special teams at various levels of the court.
Former DGP of Uttar Pradesh CD Satpathy and three IPS officers from the Gujarat cadre, Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha, and Ashish Bhatia, were appointed to the SIT.
The SC instructed the SIT to submit its findings to Ahmedabad’s metropolitan magistrate judge after it completed its investigation into nine cases.
SIT files closure report
There was no “prosecutable evidence” against Modi and the other people mentioned as accused by Zakia Jafri, the SIT concluded in its final (closure) report, which was filed in 2012.
The magisterial court accepted the SIT’s closure report.
The next year, Zakia submitted a petition objecting to the findings of the SIT report, a copy of which she had previously received. One of the conclusions reached by the SIT was that Ehsan Jafri provoked the Gulbarg Society killings.
She disputed the allegations on a number of grounds, including the pass provided to Modi, government officials, and other politicians.
In 2007, the Gujarat high court dismissed Zakia’s plea after she appealed the court judgement, upholding the magistrate’s decision.
She then went to the Supreme Court to appeal the high court’s decision with the help of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). Jafri alleged that Modi as Gujarat chief minister did nothing to save her husband and others at Gulbarg Society despite several phone calls made by the former Congress MP himself.