The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, which probes the Godhra train carnage and some of the massacres during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, has refused to accept the “proxy” appearance of Vishwa Hindu Parishad international general secretary Pravin Togadia.
He was named in the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by Zakia Jaffri, widow of the former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffri, who was among those killed in the Gulberg society in Ahmedabad.
The SIT had summoned Dr. Togadia to appear before it last week. But on Saturday, he sent his lawyers to the SIT office here to find out under what clause he had been summoned, and what would be the area of questioning.
Deepak Shukla, counsel for Dr. Togadia, said on Monday that he had sent two of his colleagues with a letter. But a SIT official not only refused to accept the letter, but also “insulted” the lawyers.
The official in charge of the investigation into the charges made by Ms. Jaffri — in her petition that named Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others as accused —refused to entertain Dr. Togadia's lawyers and demanded that he appear in person. The SIT also refused to accept from the lawyers some documents sent by Dr. Togadia.
Mr. Shukla claimed that the official refused even to sign the note, saying he was not accepting the letter or documents.
He said the SIT officer pointed out to the lawyers that even the Chief Minister had responded positively to the summons and answered its questions for nearly nine hours last month. He wondered why Dr. Togadia was reluctant to appear before it. “Is he scared of being arrested,” he asked the lawyers.
Mr. Shukla said the copy of his letter and two affidavits detailing the incident were sent to the Supreme Court.
Sources in the VHP said that SIT was not honouring the law, and refused to answer the issues raised by the lawyers. Dr. Togadia had full respect for the Supreme Court and was always prepared to cooperate with SIT, provided it answered his queries about the law.
SIT chairman R.K. Raghavan reached here on Monday, apparently to prepare the report on the progress of the investigation into the cases assigned by the Supreme Court. He is due to submit the ‘final report' — incorporating the details of the issues raised with Mr. Modi — to the Supreme Court on April 30. The SIT may seek some more time from the court to complete its task.