The Supreme Court Monday decided to consider if it should recall its April 2009 order for probing the roles of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 other top state politicians and officials in the 2002 communal riots.
‘We will consider whether this order in its entirety should be continued or recalled,’ said an apex court bench, referring to the April 27, 2009, order by another bench of erstwhile Justice Arjit Pasayat and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.
A bench of Justice Pasayat and Justice Ganguly had last April ordered the Raghavan panel, headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation director R.K. Raghavan, to probe the roles of 62 other top ranking politicians, bureaucrats and police officers of the state.
The bench of Justice D.K. Jain, which also included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Aftab Alam, Monday said it would hear the plea by former state legislator Kalu Bhai Maliwal for recall of the order in the week beginning April 5.
The bench decided to reconsider its probe order against Modi and others after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Maliwal, contended that the order was issued against his client without according him and others, including Modi, an opportunity to have their say on the matter.
The probe was ordered on a joint lawsuit by Zakia Nasim Ehsan, the widow of former Congress parliamentarian Ali Ehsan Jaffri who was pulled out of his house at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad by a mob and hacked to death.
Zakia had come to the apex court challenging a November 2007 Gujarat High Court ruling which rejected her plea to probe the role of Modi and others in the Gujarat riots.
‘Every person has a right to be heard. To send all cases of 63 persons without hearing them was against the settled principles of law. It has never happened in the history of the Supreme Court,’ Jethmalani contended.
‘There are at least seven judgments by the Supreme Court to this effect,’ he said.
The former union law minister also contended that the apex court had ended up ordering probe against Modi and 62 others even without Jaffri’s widow asking for it.
‘It’s not possible for the court to exceed the prayer,’ he argued.
Maintaining that the April 2009 order suffered from other shortcomings, Jethmalani said that while constituting Raghvan probe panel, Deputy Inspector General of Police Shivanand Jha had been appointed as one of its members.
Yet the same order sought a probe against his role as well as he figured as one of the accused in the list submitted by Jaffri’s widow, said Jethmalani.