SC defers hearing in plea on clean chit to PM in 2002 riots

Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri was killed in the Gujarat riots, has filed the petition

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The Supreme Court(SC) Monday deferred till November 26 hearing on the plea of Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) to Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said, “The matter will take some time for hearing. The plea will be heard on November 26”.

At the outset, senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for SIT said Zakia’s plea was not maintainable and social activist Teesta Seetalvad cannot be the second petitioner in the case.

The bench said it will look into the application before hearing the matter on making Seetalvad as the second petitioner in Jafri’s plea.

In 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, in the Gulberg Society massacre, following which Ehsan’s wife, Zakia Jafri, filed a plea in the Gujarat High Court .The Gujarat High Court rejected her plea against the SIT report in October 2017.

The Supreme Court had on November 13 announced it would be taking up the petition of Zakia Jafri on Monday. During proceedings in court on Monday, the Supreme Court objected to activist Teesta Setalvad wanting to be made co-petitioner with Zakia. Setalvad has been a prominent critic of Modi’s record with respect to the Gujarat riots.

On November 13, a Supreme Court bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta said Zakia Jafri’s plea would be heard on Monday as the court had not gone through her petition in detail. Zakia’s lawyer C.U. Singh said her plea needed to be heard as it pertained to the “larger conspiracy behind the Gujarat riots”.

Zakia’s petition argued that the Gujarat High Court order be set aside as “It failed to appreciate that the then chief minister and other prominent members of the political rightwing made inflammatory speeches, the home department turned a blind eye towards various SIB reports for prosecuting certain VHP office bearers and publishing houses for propagating an incendiary rhetoric, which would amount to an offence under the IPC.”

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