‘Ask SIT to forward final report on Gulberg Society carnage to Ahmedabad court'

Alleging inaction on the part of the R.K. Raghavan-led Special Investigation Team, Zakia Jafri has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the SIT to forward a final report, along with the entire material collected by it, to the Ahmedabad court, which had taken cognisance of her complaint in connection with the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

Acting on the complaint of Ms. Jafri, wife of the former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulberg Society carnage, against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 61 others, the Supreme Court on September 12, 2011 asked the SIT to submit its final report under Section 173 (2) Cr.PC to the magistrate, on the further investigation it conducted on her plea.

The Supreme Court said: “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. The said court will 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 Code.”

The present application by Ms. Jafri and Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace said: “The petitioners are anxious about the steps the SIT is planning to take in the matter as there have been varied newspaper reports which indicate that the SIT may actually file a closure report.”

The application said: “The petitioners have written to the Chairman, SIT, on more than one occasion, requesting him to indicate the status of the report so that the petitioners are also able to prepare themselves and assist the court concerned should the need arise. There has been no reply so far to any of the letters.” It had been more than three months since the judgment was passed by this court “but there have been no steps taken by the SIT to their knowledge.”

Ms. Zakia Jafri and Ms. Setalvad said, “The trial in the CR 67 of 2002 is also in the final stage and further delay in that trial would frustrate the very purpose of the setting up of the SIT and the monitoring of the cases by this court. Further, more than 338 witnesses have deposed in that trial and as many as 18 have identified the accused and withstood the hostile cross-examination of defence in an extremely hostile atmosphere.”

They said: “One of the key witnesses in a connected trial [Naroda Patiya] was recently murdered and the petitioners apprehend it was in connection with the present complaint, as he would in all likelihood have been a key witness in the present case and the SIT has recorded his statement as well. Following the suspicious circumstances under which he was killed, the applicants have assisted eyewitnesses/survivors — anxious about the status of evidence in Naroda Patiya and related cases, as also their own safety to make specific applications, vis-à-vis protection, to the SIT.”

Even now the SIT Chairman was available only on very few occasions at Gandhinagar, the petitioners said. “It is critical that the matter commences at the earliest and the SIT files its report in the court,” they said, and sought a direction to the SIT to submit its report to the court concerned within 30 days.

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