Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is yet to respond to the summons issued by the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court to enquire into the 2002 communal violence.
Although Mr. Modi acknowledged the summons issued to him to appear before the SIT for questioning in the week beginning March 21, he is consulting legal opinion on whether he needs to make a personal appearance.
The Gujarat government has promised to cooperate with the investigating agencies, and Mr. Modi recognises that the right thing to do would be to appear for the duly-constituted enquiry.
However, according to an informed source, Mr. Modi and his advisers are worried about the possible political impact of his personally appearing for the enquiry being held on a petition filed before the court by Zakia Jaffrey, widow of the former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey, who was murdered during the Gulberg Society riots on February 28, 2002.
According to the source, Mr. Modi is examining whether it would be expedient for him to appear before the SIT when the court had indicated that it would consider a plea by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani to recall its order referring Mrs. Jaffrey's complaint to the SIT.
Mr. Jethmalani, appearing for BJP MLA Kalu Bhai Maliwad, who, along with Mr. Modi is one of the 63 persons mentioned in her complaint, had told the court that none of them had been issued notice.
With the court slated to consider Mr. Jethmalani's plea during the week beginning April 5, the Modi camp may approach it to direct the SIT not to insist on the Chief Minister's personal appearance until the plea is disposed of. However, in the absence of any direction from the court to the contrary, the SIT is determined to question Mr. Modi during the week beginning March 21.