It’s official: Modi gets clean chit in Gulberg massacre

A special panel probing the 2002 Gujarat riots has given a clean to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, absolving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader of the accusation that he had a role in a case related to the communal carnage.

Metropolitan magistrate M.S. Bhatt, who received the closure report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in February, in his order said the investigators have found no evidence against any of the accused, including Modi, in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre, one of the cases related to the widespread riots 10 years ago.

Zakia Jafri, wife of the slain Congress leader Ehsaan Jafri who was killed by a rioting mob, had accused Modi and other senior government officers of being conspirators in the riots.

The former Congress MP was among 69 people burnt alive by a rioting mob Feb 28, 2002 at the Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad. “No offence” has been established against any of the persons listed in Zakia’s complaint as per the SIT report, judge Bhatt said in his order.

This is the first official confirmation about the SIT report on finding no proof against the chief minister. The court also asked the probe panel to give a copy of the report to Zakia Jafri within 30 days which is when the SIT report will become fully public.

“As per the Supreme Court’s order and principle of natural justice the complainant has to be given copy of the report and related documents. Zakia will be given copies of the investigation report, statements of witnesses and all related documents within 30 days of this order,” said the court.

Zakia in her first reaction told Times Now channel that she was “disappointed” with the closure report and vowed to continue her fight for justice till she was alive.

“I am saddened but confident I will get justice. I will fight for the justice till I am alive,” said Zakia, who claims that her husband had made frantic calls to police and the chief minister’s office seeking help, but to no avail.

The probe panel had submitted its final findings on Zakia’s plea to the court in February in a sealed cover and had left it to the court to take a decision on sharing it with the main petitioner.

 

 

Supreme Court recalls notice on Narendra Modi

The Supreme Court Friday recalled its notice to the Gujarat government and the Nanavati Commission on a plea to summon Chief Minister Narendra Modi for recording his statement on his alleged role in the 2002 post-Godhra riots in the state.

A bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Anil R. Dave recalled the order issuing notice, noting that it was issued not on a plea for summoning Modi by the Commission, but related to the summoning of some witness in the Godhra train burning case.

The court had issued notice on a petition by Amrish N. Patel on Monday.

Since a petition relating to the summoning of Modi before the Nanavati Commission is yet to be taken up by the top court, the bench took serious note of senior counsel Colin Gonsalves going wrong in the case.

“We trusted you, but this case has no connection to the witnesses mentioned. Hence we are recalling our order,” the court said.

As another case relating to the summoning of Modi by the Nanavati commission is yet to be put up for hearing, the court directed that it will be taken up on March 26.

The riots were triggered after 58 Kar Sevaks returning from Ayodhya were burnt to death in a fire in coach S-6 of Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station on Feb 27, 2002.

The Nanavati Commission was set up in 2002 in the wake of the riots. In 2004, its terms of reference were expanded to include the examination of Modi’s role in the riots.

 

 

Supreme Court notice on plea to summon Modi before riots panel

The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Gujarat government and Nanavati Commission on a plea seeking the summoning of Chief Minister Narendra Modi regarding his role during 2002 riots in the state. A bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Anil R. Dave issued notice on a plea by Amrish N. Patel, of NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch which is agitating for justice to riot victims, challenging the Gujarat High Court order upholding the Nanavati Commissioin’s decision not to summon Modi for questioning on his role during the riots.

The Nanavati Commission is probing 2002 Gujarat riots that engulfed the state in the wake of the Godhra train carnage on in which 59 ‘kar sevaks’ coming from Ayodhya were burnt to death in a fire in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express.

The high court, by its Feb 1 order, had rejected the plea by Jan Sangharsh Manch, saying it was up to the Nanavati commission whether it wished to summon a person or not.

Seeking the stay of the high court order, the petition said even after 10 years of its constitution, the panel had not summoned Modi and other ministers of his government against whom statements, depositions and evidences were submitted before it.

“The commission has exercised unreasonable and arbitrary discretion” in refusing to summon Modi and others and had “acted with material irregularity”, it said.

Nanavati Commission, while rejecting JSM’s plea to summon Modi and others, had held that “there exists no material to summon the chief minister and other persons perverse and utterly contrary to the record?”

The high court by rejecting the plea by the petitioner and refusing permission to cross-examine certain key people closely associated with the chief minister’s office at the time of the riots has further added to the impediment in summoning and cross examining these people, the NGO’s plea said.

“When the terms of reference of the commission of enquiry are, by notification and in public interest, specifically expanded to include the role and the conduct of the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, during the riots of 2002, is it not utterly unreasonable and arbitrary for the commission to refuse to summon the chief minister and have him cross examined,” it argued.

The petition wondered if the proceedings of the commission were not vitiated by institutionalised factual bias right from its inception, citing it has not engaged any counsel to represent it before the high court and relied upon the state’s advocate general.

 

 

Petition seeking Narendra Modi’s deposition before Nanavati panel rejected

In a reprieve for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Gujarat High Court Wednesday rejected a petition seeking his deposition before the Nanavati-Mehta commission probing the 2002 communal riots in the state.

“The court has dismissed the appeal filed by NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch challenging the order of the commission on the ground that the commission has rightly exercised its discretion,” Gujarat government counsel Devang Nanavati said.

“The commission’s order giving reasons for the discretion has been upheld and vindicated by the Gujarat High Court. So certainly, Modi’s stand has been vindicated,” he added.

The Jan Sangharsh Manch, which is representing the riot victims, had filed the petition after the commission rejected its application seeking Modi’s deposition.

The NGO said it will now move the Supreme Court.

“We will move the apex court on this issue. The state government had itself asked the commission to inquire into Modi’s role in the riots. It is only proper that Modi should have deposed before the commission,” said lawyer and activist, Mukul Sinha, who filed the petition.

The Gujarat government had set up a commission of enquiry headed by retired high court judge K.G. Shah on March 6, 2002 to enquire into the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence and submit a report in three months. On May 22, 2002, the state government reconstituted the commission under retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavati.

Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in violent clashes after the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying kar sevaks returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya was torched at Godhra railway station on Feb 27, 2002.

 

 

 

 

Who leaked Modi’s letter to PM, asks court

The Gujarat High Court Wednesday on 7th September issued notice to its registrar general, the personal secretary to the chief justice and Lokayukta R.A. Mehta seeking answers on how the contents of a letter from Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached mediapersons.

Modi wrote to the prime minister demanding annulment of the warrant of appointment of Mehta as the Lokayukta.

The court also asked the respondents to explain their respective stands on the issue of appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman by Sep 21, the next date of hearing.

On Aug 25, Governor Kamla Beniwal appointed Mehta as the Lokayukta allegedly bypassing the state government.

On Aug 26, the Modi government challenged the Lokayukta’s appointment in the high court.

Social organisation Jan Sangharsh Manch, represented by counsel Mukul Sinha, had also moved a plea in the court to issue notice against Modi and for “not hearing the petition filed by the government” over Lokayukta’s appointment.

The government sought to make the governor a respondent in the case but the division bench comprising Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sonia Gokani asked the government to file an amended petition.

In the modified plea, Beniwal’s name was removed and Mehta was made the first respondent and the registrar general of the high court was made the second respondent.

Two contempt of court petitions were filed in the high court against Modi for writing to the prime minister on the lokayukta issue and two additional petitions were filed over the inordinate delay in filling up the ombudsman’s post.

Appearing for activist Bhikhu Jethva, his counsel Anand Yagnik contended that the chief minister going public with his statements on the issue while the high court was seized of the matter amounted to interference in the functioning of the judiciary and contempt of the court.

“By consciously disclosing the letter written to the prime minister on the matter of the ongoing judicial proceedings and making it public, the chief minister has deliberately committed criminal contempt,” Yagnik had stated.

“The criminal contempt is much more serious and grave as it indirectly and by implication questions impartiality, honesty and integrity of the chief justice of the high court,” he added.

Two other public interest litigations have also been filed on the issue of Lokayukta’s appointment by the Gandhi Sena Trust and the Dhrangadhara Prakruti Mandal. Till Mehta’s appointment, the post of Lokayukta had been lying vacant in Gujarat for over seven years.

 

Ready to name more witnesses, Gujarat cop tells probe panel

Gujarat’s senior IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt told the Nanavati-Mehta commission that he could name other witnesses who would vouchsafe his presence at a crucial meeting called by Chief Minister Narendra Modi Feb 27,2002 in addition to the names he mentioned in his affidavit made before the Supreme Court.

 

“I will give the names of the witnesses only when asked by the Supreme Court since the issue was pending before the apex court”, he said in his disposition before the judicial enquiry committee probing the 2002 riots.

 

Bhatt, who stated that at the meeting Modi had not only “directed” top police officers to “allow the Hindus to vent their anger”, but also failed to issue any instruction even in the two subsequent meetings held on the next day.

 

The meeting was held at the chief minister’s residence Feb 27, 2002 evening after the train carnage at the Godhra railway station early in the morning that left 58 people dead.

 

Bhatt was emphatic that he had attended all three meetings.

 

“The chief minister had called two meetings on February 28, the day of the bandh call, one in the forenoon and the other in late afternoon and I had attended both the meetings in the company of my superior, the additional director general of police and state intelligence chief G.C. Raigar.”

 

He claimed that by the time the second meeting was held, the intelligence department had “real-time information” about the mob build-up and the tense situation in the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad.

 

Bhtt said that he had personally informed the chief minister about the build-up in Gulberg Society, the threat to the residents there, including to the former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, and the “complete police inaction” across the city.

 

But the chief minister did not give any instruction for protective action, Bhatt said.

 

He also claimed that the state director general of police (DGP), K. Chakravarthi, was present when he informed the chief minister about the situation in Gulberg.

 

Referring to the Feb 27 meeting, Bhatt stated that both the then state DGP and the Ahmedabad police commissioner, P.C. Pande, tried to convince the chief minister about the inherent dangers in the BJP supporting the Viswa Hindu Parishad’s protest bandh call given for the next day as it would amount to the government supporting it.

 

Similarly the two top officers also tried to dissuade the chief minister from bringing the bodies of the train carnage victims from Godhra to Ahmedabad and from taking out the funeral procession with the bodies.

 

Pande even told the chief minister that this could lead to an incendiary situation, Bhatt said.

 

He added that he had also briefed the chief minister about the large scale mobilisation by the Sangh Parivar even in interior areas and the possibility of large scale violence.

 

The chief minister was also briefed about the paucity of police force to deal with the situation emerging out of such a course of action, Bhatt said.

 

Bhatt Monday moved an application seeking directions to authorities to allow him access to requisite and relevant information, records and documents of the state control room and the Intelligence Bureau, and the offices of the director general and inspector general of police for the period from Feb-Sept 17, 2002.