The Supreme Court has permitted the Special Investigation Team to conduct further probe on the complaint by Zakia Jaffrey, wife of a slain former Congress MP, that Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others orchestrated the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam is hearing a batch of petitions on Godhra and post-Godhra riots cases.
The SIT, headed by the former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan, submitted a report after investigating Mr. Modi and others, and in its status report filed on Thursday sought permission to conduct further probe against some persons. Informed sources said the further probe pertained to the role of the former Minister of State for Home, Govardhan Zadaphiya, and police officers M.K. Tandon and P.B. Gondia.
The SIT probe followed the April 27, 2009 court order on the petition by Zakia, whose husband Ehsan Jaffrey was burnt to death during the Gulberg Society massacre in Ahmedabad. When counsel Kamini Jaiswal tried to raise the issue of lapses in the functioning of the SIT, Justice Jain made it clear: “We have full confidence in the SIT and its Chairman and the amicus curiae [senior advocate Harish Salve]. Let us have faith in one agency. We know they are doing a fine job.”
Justice Jain took exception to Teesta Setalvad, secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace, for contacting a public prosecutor after an application of a victim was rejected by the trial court.
Justice Jain read out the comment of the supervising officer Ashish Bhatia, IPS, on what transpired between Special Public Prosecutor R.C. Kodekar and Ms. Setalvad. It was alleged that after the application moved by advocate Salim Sheikh was rejected, Ms. Setalvad on July 19 telephoned Mr. Kodekar and threatened to make a complaint in the Supreme Court against him for objecting to the plea.
Justice Jain orally observed: “We cannot appreciate this. It is very serious.” However, Ms. Setalvad, who was present, denied the allegation. She admitted calling up Mr. Kodekar but said she only spoke about the witnesses. The Bench, in its order, said it accepted her explanation and would not proceed further on the issue.
However, “We are making it clear that henceforth nobody except the Chairman and members of the SIT will be in touch with the public prosecutors. We also direct that if the SPPs engaged to conduct trials of various cases want some inputs or face difficulty, they can keep themselves in touch with only the Chairman or members of the SIT for redress of the same.”