NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would hear on October 26 a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging the Special Investigation Team (SIT) clean chit to Narendra Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister during the 2002 riots in the state.
A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar made it clear that no request for further adjournment at the instance of the petitioner (Zakia Jafri) will be entertained on future dates.
“At the request of the petitioner, hearing is deferred till October 26,” said the bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar.
“It is made clear that no request for further adjournment at the instance of the petitioner on any count will be entertained on future dates,” said the bench, which granted liberty to the petitioner to file additional compilation in the matter.
At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Zakia Jafri, said this matter has suddenly come up and there are about 23,000 pages of record and they would circulate a convenience compilation.
The bench said the matter was notified well in advance.
“No my lords, it was suddenly notified on Friday,” Sibal said, adding, it was adjourned in April this year and because of the pandemic, it did not come up.
He requested the bench to list the matter on a fixed date. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the request on the ground of convenience compilation is being raised for the last one-and-a-half year.
“There is no notice issued, there is no stay, my friend cannot possibly object,” Sibal said.
However, the bench observed, “Mr.Sibal, we think that Mr.Solicitor General was very considerate in saying only one-and-a-half year. The matter is pending from 2018.”
In April this year, the apex court had said that the matter would be listed after two weeks as the petitioner had circulated a letter seeking adjournment in the case.
Zakia Jafri’s counsel had earlier told the top court that notice needs to be issued in the plea as it relates to an alleged “larger conspiracy” from February 27, 2002, to May 2002.
Ehsan Jafri, the former MP, was among the 68 people killed at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.
On February 8, 2012, the SIT had filed a closure report giving a clean chit to Modi, now the prime minister, and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.
Zakia Jafri had filed a petition in the apex court in 2018 challenging the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the decision of the SIT.
The plea also maintained that after the SIT gave a clean chit in its closure report before a trial judge, Zakia Jafri filed a protest petition which was dismissed by the magistrate without considering “substantiated merits”.
It also said the high court “failed to appreciate” the petitioner’s complaint which was independent of the Gunbarrel Society case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.
The high court in its October 2017 order had said the SIT probe was monitored by the Supreme Court.
However, it partly allowed Zakia Jafri’s petition as far as its demand for a further investigation was concerned.
It had said the petitioner can approach an appropriate forum, including the magistrate’s court, a division bench of the high court, or the Supreme Court seeking further investigation.