The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Gujarat government to hand over to the Special Investigation Team all documents, including a copy of the alleged communal speech by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, for further investigation of the Godhra and post-Godhra riot cases.
A three-judge Bench gave this directive after Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam submitted that SIT chief R.K. Raghavan had said the government was not cooperating with the team.
The Bench perused an interim report submitted by the SIT in a sealed cover. One of the 14 documents the SIT sought pertained to Mr. Modi’s speech, said to be inflammatory.
Gujarat’s Additional Advocate-General Tushar Mehta contended that the Chief Minister’s speech was delivered months after the riots, and it had nothing to do with the SIT investigation. The speech, he said, was in no way relevant to the conspiracy complaint made by Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulberg society carnage.
It was beyond the scope of the SIT to seek a copy of this speech, Mr. Mehta said. At this, Justice D.K. Jain said: “We are issuing the directions, and if you fail to comply with them, you will have to tell the reasons and then the court will deal with it accordingly.”
Justice P. Sathasivam told Mr. Mehta that there was a lot of correspondence between the SIT and the government, but there was no proper response from the government.
When Mr. Mehta said the State had already given documents running into14,000 pages, Justice Jain said: “We are not on the number of pages. We want your response about the 14 documents asked from you. Hand over all vital documents to the SIT.”
Justice Aftab Alam read out excerpts from the SIT interim report, pointing out that the court-appointed team wrote letters, seeking 14 documents, on September 15, October 31 and December 19 last but the government took no action. When Mr. Mehta said he should be given time to file his comments, Justice Jain said: “We don’t want your comments. We direct you to supply all the documents sought by the SIT.”
The court directed that the matter be listed for February 9 to take up the applications seeking the reconstitution of the SIT in the wake of the recent judgment in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. The Citizens for Justice and Peace sought removal of IGP Geetha Johri, IGP Shivanand Jha and another senior officer Ashish Bhatia.
Amicus curiae Harish Salve asked the court not to give any direction to shift these officers, as such an order would be hurting. He had a telephonic conversation with Mr. Raghvan, who said things would likely be sorted out without the court’s intervention.
Declining a request for five months’ time, the Bench asked the SIT to submit its report by April 30.