Supreme Court to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea against clean chit to PM Narendra Modi in Gujarat riots in July

The Supreme Court Monday said it will hear in July a plea of Zakia Jafri, challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar listed the matter for hearing in the month of July.

Zakia, the wife of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri who was one of the 68 killed in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg society, has challenged the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT’s decision.

On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.

Supreme Court to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea against clean chit to PM Modi in Gujarat riots.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear a plea by Zakia Jafri, challenging the SIT’s clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots, after four weeks.
Zakia, the wife of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri who was one of the 68 killed in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg society, has challenged the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT’s decision.
The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi.
“You are asking for four weeks and we are giving you four weeks. List the matter after four weeks,” the bench said.
The court previously said it will also look into the application by social activist Teesta Setalvad on becoming a co-petitioner in Zakia’s plea ahead of hearing the main case.
Jafri’s counsel told the apex court that a notice needs to be issued in the plea as it pertains to alleged “larger conspiracy” during February 27, 2002 and May 2002. It also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, the petitioner filed a protest which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering “substantiated merits”.
On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them. Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, triggering riots in Gujarat. The plea, filed through advocate Aparna Bhat, further said the high court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint which was independent of the Gulberg case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.
The high court in its October 5, 2017, order said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court. However, it partly allowed Zakia’s petition as far as its demand of a further investigation was concerned.

Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven

Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven
Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven

The Bombay High Court today upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case of the 2002 Gujarat riots while setting aside the acquittal of seven persons including policemen and doctors.

The court also dismissed an appeal filed by the CBI seeking death penalty for three of the convicts.

Bilkis, who was gang raped in March 2002 at a time when she was pregnant, said her rights as a woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner and the verdict “vindicated truth”, and “upheld” her faith in the judiciary.

Seven of her family members were also killed in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident.

A division bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said, “The appeal against conviction filed by the 11 convicts (one of them is dead) is dismissed. The conviction and sentence is upheld.”

“The appeal filed by the prosecution against the acquittal of seven persons (in the case) is allowed. The acquittal is set aside,” the court said.

The seven persons, who include five policemen and two doctors, are convicted for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the bench said.

“We will consider the period undergone in jail of these seven persons as their sentence. But we will impose a fine amount on them,” the court said.

Each of the seven persons, who was convicted, has been directed to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 within eight weeks.

The convicted policemen and doctors are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Sombhai Gori, Arun Kumar Prasad (doctor) and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad (doctor). Now 18 people stand convicted in the case.

In a statement to the media, Bilkis said, “My rights, as a human being, as a citizen, woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner, but I had trust in the democratic institutions of our country. Now, my family and I feel we can begin to lead our lives again, free of fear.

“I am happy that the State and its officials who emboldened, encouraged, and protected the criminals who destroyed the life of an entire community, are no longer unblemished, but today stand charged with tampering of evidence. For officers of the state, whose sworn duty is to protect citizens and enable justice, this should be their great moral shame, to bear forever,” she added.

The court had last year reserved its judgement in the appeals filed by 11 persons convicted in the case and also the appeal filed by CBI for capital punishment to three of them.

A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment eleven men in the case.

They later approached the High Court here challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court’s order to be quashed and set aside.

The CBI had also filed an appeal in the High Court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted on the grounds that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.

According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots and seven members of her family were killed.

Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang-raped while six other members of her family managed to escape from the mob.

The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

The 11 convicted are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.

The convicts had challenged the order on three main grounds — that all evidences in the case were fabricated by CBI, that Bilkis gave birth to a child after the incident proving that she could not have been gang raped, and the failure to discover the bodies of some of her family members proved that they were not killed.

The CBI had sought enhancement of punishment for three of them- Jaswantbhai, Govindbhai and Radhesham Shah on the grounds that they had raped Bilkis.

( Source – PTI )

“Guj, Muzaffarnagar riots led youths to terrorism”

"Guj, Muzaffarnagar riots led youths to terrorism"
“Guj, Muzaffarnagar riots led youths to terrorism”

The riots in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar have motivated youths to join terrorism in India, the Delhi Police has told a court here in a charge sheet filed against three alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives.

In the charge sheet filed against three suspected JeM members arrested for allegedly planning an attack in the national capital, the Special Cell of the police said Pakistan-based JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar was the main “inspiration” for the accused and other youths in India to join terrorism.

The charge sheet was filed before Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh against the accused — Mohd Sajid, Shakir and Sameer, who are currently in judicial custody.

“He (Sajid) talked to the youths (in a meeting in his house on December 20, 2015) about persecution of Muslims during Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar riots, apart from talking about the conditions of Muslims in Burma. He had said that they should be ready to face Gujarat-like situations in future.

“To indoctrinate these youths, Sajid had asked them to listen to the ‘taqreer’ (speeches) of Maulana Masood Azhar,” the charge sheet said.

Regarding Sajid’s role, it said, “He listened Jihadi speeches of Maulana who spoke about violent Jihad in India in retaliation to the demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’ and about alleged atrocities on Muslims in India and liberation of Kashmir from India.”

“The alleged persecution of Muslims as shown in these videos and emphasised in the speeches of Maulana infused in him the feeling of armed Jihad against India,” it said.

The agency also quoted video clippings recovered from Sajid containing the JeM chief’s inflammatory speeches inciting terror actions in India.

( Source – PTI )

SC to consider vacating order in Gujarat riots case

supreme courtThe Supreme Court Tuesday said it would consider lifting order staying the pronouncment of judgement by the trial court in one of the 2002 riot cases in Gujarat in which three British nationals were killed by a mob after knowing that they belonged to a particular community.

A special bench headed by Justice H L Dattu asked the Special Investigating Team (SIT), which probed the nine riot cases, to file an appropriate application for modification or vacation of its October 26, 2010 order by which the trial court in Ahmedabad was asked to go ahead with the trial with a direction that it would not pronounce its judgement.

The bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and M Y Eqbal, said it would consider the matter on September 16 after getting response of the Gujarat Government and other stake holders in the matter.

The bench said it was considering to pass some order as letters have also been received from some of the accused that they are in jail for almost 10 years.

“At the end of the day, we have to tell them and we should be in a position to tell them whether they have to be inside the jail or they have to come out,” the bench observed during the brief hearing about the case in which three British nationals were killed allegedly by 10 people.

The bench, which perused the fresh progress report filed in a sealed cover, was also told that in another case the trial was over and the judgement has been delayed as the concerned judge was transfered and new judge has come.
(Source: PTI)

Gujarat riots: CIC order reversed to reveal communication between PM, Prez

The Delhi High Court today set aside a Central Information Commission’s(CIC)  order to the Centre to reveal to it the communication between erstwhile Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and President K R Narayanan over the 2002 Gujarat riots.

 Justice Anil Kumar gave the order, allowing the Centre’s appeal against the CIC’s directions.

 In the facts and circumstances, the order of the CIC of August 8, 2006 is liable to be set aside and the CIC cannot direct the petitioner (Centre) to produce the correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister.

 “Since the CIC is not entitled to peruse the correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister, as it is be barred under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India, the application of the petitioner seeking such an information will also be not maintainable,” said the judge.

 Article 74(2) of the Constitution bars the disclosure of the advice given by the Council of Ministers to the President.

 While setting aside the order of the full bench of the CIC, Justice Kumar, who is demitting office today, also dismissed RTI applicant C Ramesh’s plea saying he was not “entitled” to the communications exchanged between the then President and Prime Minister over the Gujarat riots.

 Ramesh’s request for making public the communications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act had been denied by the Central Public Information Officer and his appeal against the denial was also dismissed, subsequent to which he had moved the apex transparency panel CIC.

 A full bench of the CIC on August 8, 2006 had called for the correspondences, sought by Ramesh, to examine whether their disclosure would serve or harm the public interest, after which it would issue appropriate orders.

 The Centre had approached the Delhi High Court against the CIC order claiming that such disclosures would affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

SC seeks details of sites damaged in Gujarat riots

 The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Gujarat government to file a survey report of the religious sites which were damaged and destroyed during the 2002 Gujarat riots in the state.

 A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also asked the state government to quantify the amount needed for building and repairing those sites that were affected by the riots.

 The court gave the directions on an appeal filed by the Gujarat government challenging a Gujarat High Court order directing it to pay compensation for damage and destruction of the religious sites.

 At the very start of the proceedings, the Gujarat government said that the state exchequer could not be used for building and repairing religious sites.

 The bench, however, said it would look into the issue whether public funds could be used for restoring the damaged sites in Gujarat riots.

 “You compensate if a house is washed away in a flood or if it is damaged in an earthquake. Then why not in case of a religious place?” the bench asked.

 The court directed the state government to file an affidavit with regard to the religious sites affected by the riots and posted the matter for further hearing on July 30.

 On February 8, the Gujarat government was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court for “inaction and negligence” on its part during the 2002 post-Godhra riots that led to large-scale damage or destruction of religious structures.

 A high court division bench of Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had ordered compensation for over 500 places of worships in the state on a plea by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG), an NGO.

 The NGO had contended that 535 religious places were affected; out which 37 remain to be repaired.

 Challenging the high court’s order, advocate Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, contended that Sikh religious groups were also seeking compensation for damage to the religious places during 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

 The plea by IRCG in 2003 had sought the court’s direction to the government to pay compensation for damage to religious places during the riots on the ground that the National Human Rights Commission, too, had recommended it and the state government had in principle accepted the suggestion.

 The high court had observed that inadequacy, inaction and negligence on the part of the state government to prevent the riots had resulted in religious structures being affected across the state.

 It had said when the government could pay compensation for destruction of houses and commercial establishments then it should also pay compensation for religious structures damaged in Gujarat riots.

 If the structures have been already restored by now, the government should reimburse the amount spent on their restoration, the court had said.

Gujarat riots: SIT to probe officials’ inaction

The Supreme Court on Thursday permitted the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the 2002 post-Godhra riot cases in Gujarat to investigate allegations of inaction by the state government during the carnage at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society. The court order came on a complaint filed by Zakia

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Nasim, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri burnt alive by a mob at the society, alleging a larger conspiracy behind inaction of the state government machinery.

The post-Godhra massacre Feb 28, 2002 at the society saw 35 people killed. Thirtyone people were reported missing after the violence.

On Thursday, the SIT also submitted a report to the court in a sealed cover.

The report, prepared by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) deputy inspector general A.K. Malhotra, also carried the comments of SIT chairman and former CBI director R.K. Raghavan.

An apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Aftab Alam was also given another report by Malhotra wherein he said that he wanted to investigate three more people.

The court while handing over the copy of the SIT report to amicus curiae Prashant Bhushan said that it was just a preliminary inquiry and upon going through it if he felt that more people were required to be investigated, then he should indicate the same.

The next hearing of the matter would take place Sep 30.

The court also asked the SIT not to share with the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission, conducting a parallel probe in the riots, the details of its questioning of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Nanavati Commission which had given a clean chit to Modi in its interim report has approached the SIT for a report on Modi’s questioning. Modi was questioned by the SIT March 27, 2010.

The court also rejected the plea by Gujarat’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta’s plea to make senior counsel Harish Salve as amicus curiae in place of Bhushan.

He said that Bhushan’s views on Gujarat affairs were too pronounced to carry any confidence in him.

The additional advocate general said that the state wanted that the assistance rendered by the amicus curiae to the court should be objective.

At this, Justice Jain said: “The court has reposed confidence in him (Bhushan)”.

The court took note of a report that said that the social activists Teesta Setalvad had tried to influence a special public prosecutor.

Expressing its displeasure, the court directed that henceforth the SIT would communicate with special public prosecutors only through Raghavan and if public prosecutors had to talk to SIT they would get in touch with him.

When Teesta wanted to deny the charge, the court said that your telephone number is mentioned in the report.

Teesta said that she doesn’t deny that she spoke to special public prosecutors but it was on a different subject. After recording her statement the court closed the matter.

When the senior counsel Ram Jethmalani sought the copy of the SIT report submitted to the court in a sealed cover, Justice Jain said that it would be made available to them as and when the occasion arises.

When Jethmalani said that the report should be unsealed and its content made public, Justice Jain said that if the copy of the report could be given to the state then why the same should not be given to the petitioner upon whose complaint entire process was initiated.

The court also issued notice to the Maharashtra government for refusing to release one of its Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, K. Venketash, for the purposes of reconstituting the SIT.

The court in its notice asked why the state government should not be directed to release the said officer.

The court order came after Salve said that no one should be allowed to make either positive or negative contribution to the composition of SIT.

Salve said that the moment court issues notice, the state government would fall in line.

The court was told that the SIT was inducting an Assam IPS officer Y.C. Modi.