The Supreme Court on Monday directed a trial court in Gujarat to take a final decision on the complaint of Zakia Jafri, wife of the former MP, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulberg Society carnage during the 2002 riots, against Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam directed the Special Investigation Team, headed by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan, to submit its final report under Section 173 (2) of the Cr.PC to the trial court, on the further investigation conducted by it on Ms. Jafri's complaint.

Ms. Jafri accused Mr. Modi and 61 others of orchestrating the post-Godhra communal riots in connivance with police officials and senior bureaucrats. The Supreme Court asked the SIT to probe the matter. The SIT submitted its report in May 2010, but the court asked amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran to independently review the report against the backdrop of concerns that some of its conclusions — namely that no case was made out against Mr. Modi — were not fully in consonance with the evidence the investigation had itself established.

Disposing of the matter, the Bench said that in light of the report of the amicus curiae, submitted earlier this year, “the question for determination was the future course of action in the matter.” The Bench said: “We are of the opinion that bearing in mind the scheme of Chapter XII of the Cr.PC, once the investigation has been conducted and completed by the SIT, in terms of the orders passed by this court from time to time, there is no course available in law, save and except to forward the final report under Section 173 (2) of the Code to the court empowered to take cognisance of the offence alleged.”

Accordingly, “we direct the Chairman, SIT to forward a final report, along with the entire material collected by the SIT, to the court which had taken cognisance of Crime Report No.67 of 2002, as required under Section 173(2) of the Code. Before submission of its report, it will be open to the SIT to obtain from the amicus curiae copies of his reports submitted to this court.”

Asked to comment on the order, Mr. Raghavan, who is now in London, told The Hindu: “I would merely say that the SIT will give [the] maximum support to the trial court as per the Supreme Court's directions. It is possible we may be required to file a final report to the trial court on the further investigation done by us under intimation to the Supreme Court and with the permission of the trial court as required by Section 173 (8) of the Cr.PC.”

The Bench made it clear that the trial court would deal with the matter in accordance with law relating to the trial of the accused, named in the report/charge sheet, including matters falling within the ambit and scope of Section 173(8) of the Cr.PC.

However, “if for any stated reason the SIT opines in its report, to be submitted in terms of this order, that there is no sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds for proceeding against any person named in the complaint, dated 8th June 2006, before taking a final decision on such ‘closure' report, the court shall issue notice to the complainant and make available to her copies of the statements of the witnesses, other related documents and the investigation report strictly in accordance with law.”