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A Supreme Court bench of Justices Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari today, while dismissing the plea which challenged the clean chit to Narendra Modi in Gujarat Riots observed that the present proceedings have been pursued for the last 16 years to "keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design".
The Supreme Court of India has wrapped its knuckles on such abuse of process and has added that those involved need to “be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”
The court made the above observations in a plea by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the ‘clean chit’ given to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the riots that followed the Godhra Carnage at Gujarat in 2002.
Allegations against SIT investigation:
The court has appreciated the SIT for the indefatigable work done in the challenging circumstances they had to face. The judgment noted that the SIT have “come out with flying colours unscathed.”
It has been noted that the proceedings before the court appear to be the efforts of the disgruntled officials of Gujarat along with others to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.
While considering the claims against SIT, the court has observed that, the falsity of such claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation in this regard. The court concluded that the allegations against SIT are not only far fetched but also seem to be questioning the wisdom of the Supreme Court, which appointed it.
The court has taken note of the fact that the SIT has taken up the investigation objectively and dispassionately to the satisfaction of this Court. It has been observed that the argument by Zakia was bordering on undermining the integrity and sincerity of the members of the SIT.
It has been concluded that the submissions by Zakia’s counsels against the SIT are not only far-fetched but also an attempt to undo and undermine the industry of the SIT.
The court has taken note of the fact that the SIT had not found any conspiracy for linking the separate incidents of mass violence across the State during the investigation.
It has been observed by the court that, inaction or failure of some officials of one section of the State administration cannot be the basis to infer a preplanned criminal conspiracy by the authorities of the State Government or to term it as a "State sponsored crime (violence) against the minority community".
Detailing further on the criminal conspiracy, the court has held that such inaction or negligence cannot pass the muster of hatching of a criminal conspiracy. To establish such a staggering claim, the degree of participation in the planning of commission of an offence of this magnitude will have to be established. The court further noted that the SIT was not there to enquire into the failures of the State administration.
On the failure of State Administration, the judgment notes that overrunning of State administration is not an unknown phenomenon. The court has remarked “It has been witnessed all over the globe during the second wave of pandemic, where the countries with even best of medical facilities crumbled and their management skills were overrun under the pressure. Can it be said to be a case of hatching of criminal conspiracy?”
In order to substantiate the failure of State Administration, the court has considered that there must be credible evidence regarding State sponsored breakdown of law-and-order situation. The court held that spontaneous or isolated instances or events of failure of State administration to control the situation cannot be said to constitute criminal conspiracy.
The court thus concludes that the argument about the existence of materials for build-up of communal mobilisations and stockpiling of weapons, arms and ammunitions even before the Godhra episode being part of the larger criminal conspiracy, is devoid of merits. The above conclusion was arrived at after considering the SIT report on the same.
On Protest petition filed by Zakia:
Upon considering the protest petition filed by Zakia against the Magistrate accepting SIT’s closure report, the Court has observed that in the name of protest petition, she was also indirectly questioning the decisions rendered by the Courts in other cases including pending cases. The court has remarked,
“She was obviously doing so under dictation of someone.”
“She was obviously doing so under dictation of someone.”
The court has observed that the sizeable contents of the protest petition are founded on the affidavits filed by those persons, whose version have been found to be replete with falsehood.
The court has held that both the Magistrate, as well as, the High Court have accepted the final report presented by the SIT and there is no material in the protest petition worth the name to even create a suspicion.
In conclusion, the court has held that SIT was entrusted with investigation of nine (9) and all the reports were submitted only upon the Supreme Court being satisfied by them. The trials have also progressed under continuous supervision of the court, it has resulted in conviction as well.
The court has upheld the decision of the Magistrate in accepting the final report submitted by the SIT. It has been held that the Magistrate was right in rejecting the protest petition filed by Zakia. The court thus dismissed the plea filed by Zakia.
Case Title: Zakia Ahsan Jafri Vs. State of Gujarat & Anr.
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