The plea was against SIT report giving a clean chit to Narendra Modi

An Ahmedabad metropolitan court on Monday deferred to December 2 its verdict on the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of Congress leader Ahsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, against a Special Investigation Team (SIT) giving a clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the violence that claimed over a 1,000 lives, majority of whom were Muslims.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had asked the SIT to look into Ms. Jafri’s criminal complaint against the Chief Minister and 59 others, including several senior police and government officials. Originally asked to inquire into nine major massacre cases of the 2002 riots, the SIT was also directed subsequently to inquire into this criminal complaint holding Mr. Modi responsible for targeted attacks on the minority community.

The SIT’s reports in 2010 concluded that many allegations were correct, but even so the material was not adequate to prosecute any of the 60 accused. On the other hand, the Supreme Court’s amicus curiae, senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran, examining the same evidence collected by the SIT, categorically stated that this was enough to prosecute Mr. Modi and the others.

Following these two contradictory assessments, the Supreme Court remanded the case to a lower court, directing the SIT to file its final report, but also ordering that the complainants had the legal right to move a protest petition and access all investigation papers if the SIT filed a closure report.

The report giving a clean chit to the accused was filed on February 8, 2012, but it took over a year for Citizens for Justice and Peace and Ms. Jafri to get the SIT’s investigation papers. Finally, the protest petition was filed on April 15 this year.

During arguments between June 24 and August 29, Ms. Jafri’s advocates brought out many government documents, depositions by officials in various forums, including the SIT, and other papers to accuse the Chief Minister of conspiring to spread anti-Muslim riots outside Godhra in 2002.

The verdict on the protest petition was scheduled for Monday but the court stated that the order was still being prepared and could not be delivered before December 2. The court will be on Diwali vacation from October 31 through November 13.