SC upholds SIT clean chit to PM Modi in Gujarat riots case

Wednesday 29th June 2022 07:15 EDT

The Supreme Court last week upheld the findings of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that had given a clean chit to then CM Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
It also dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed by rioters, and activist Teesta Setalvad demanding a probe against a "larger conspiracy" behind the riots - thus bringing the curtain down on a two decade-long legal tribulation of Modi that was triggered by the testimonies of IPS officers and others that the court ruled were "false".

Examining threadbare all the allegations made against Modi and other state officials as well as the findings provided by former CBI director R K Raghavan-led and SC-appointed SIT, the apex court said no case was made out against Modi and others and there was nothing to substantiate the allegation about the riots being the result of a criminal conspiracy hatched at the highest level.

The court took former IPS officers R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt to task for giving false testimonies to sensationalise the issue by incriminating Modi and others. It suggested that people behind the ulterior design for keeping the issue boiling for the last 16 years be brought to book in what could spell trouble for the duo whom the court termed "disgruntled".

No fault can be found with SIT report

The verdict marked a vindication of Modi who had all along, including before the SIT which questioned him for nine hours about the “conspiracy charges” levelled by the IPS officers and former BJP leader Haren Pandya, denied the charge.
The judges rejected the allegation that communal riots that erupted in Gujarat after a mob set afire a compartment of Sabarmati Express at Godhra junction carrying kar sevaks killing 58 of them, were pre-planned and the result of criminal conspiracy hatched at the highest level when Modi was CM. There was no material to prove it, said the bench as it also pointed to measures taken by the Modi government in Gujarat, including requisitioning the Army, to turn down the plea of “larger conspiracy”.
The order came on a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed by rioters, and activist Teesta Setalvad to challenge the finding of a SC-appointed Special Investigation Team absolving the then Gujarat CM of the charge of criminal conspiracy.

“To sum up, we are of the considered opinion that no fault can be found with the approach of the SIT in submitting final report dated 8.2.2012, which is backed by firm logic,” the bench said.

Teesta, Sreekumar in police custody

Mumbai-based social activist Teesta Setalvad was arrested on Sunday morning in connection with an FIR filed by Ahmedabad crime branch which names Setalvad along with two ex-IPS officers R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt for abusing the process of law by conspiring to fabricate the evidence in an attempt to frame innocent people for an offence punishable with capital punishment in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Setalvad and Sreekumar were later produced before a metropolitan magistrate in an urgent hearing, which granted the city crime branch their custody till 2.30 pm on July 2.
Setalvad was arrested after she was brought to Ahmedabad following her detention from Mumbai via road early on Sunday morning. Sreekumar was arrested on Saturday. Top sources in Gujarat police said that the third accused dismissed IPS officer Bhatt, who is lodged in a Palanpur jail in a drug peddling case, is likely to be arrested in the next three to four days through a transfer warrant.
Meanwhile, the state home department on Sunday formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt.
“The SIT will be headed by deputy inspector general (DIG) of Gujarat Anti Terrorists Squad (ATS) Deepan Bhadran and will have deputy commissioner of police (DCP) of Ahmedabad Crime Branch Chaitanya Mandalik, and superintendent of police (SP) of Gujarat ATS Sunil Joshi as its two members,” said a home department officer.

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