Gujarat riots: SC fixes April 14 for hearing Zakia Jafri's plea against SIT clean chit to Modi

The apex court posted the matter for hearing in April after Zakia's counsel sought an adjournment and urged the court to post it after the Holi vacation.

Published: 04th February 2020 12:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2020 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

PM Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi. (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Irked over repeated adjournments sought by Zakia Jafri, wife of slain former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, on her plea challenging SIT's clean chit to the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots, the Supreme Court Tuesday listed the matter for April 14 asking all to be "available" for the hearing.

"This matter has been adjourned so many times, whatever it is, we will have to hear it someday. Take one date and make sure you all are available," said a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari.

Jafri's lawyer sought adjournment of the matter till after the Holi vacation next month.

Advocate Aparna Bhatt, appearing for Jafri, said that the matter is a contentious one and the court should list it after the Holi vacation in March for detailed hearing.

She said senior advocate Kapil Sibal would argue on behalf of Jafri as he was arguing in some other court in a part-heard matter.

Bhatt said a letter for adjournment of the matter has also been circulated among the parties.

Senior advocates C S Vaidyanathan and Maninder Singh, appearing for Gujarat government, said that they have no objection to the circulation of the letter for adjournment of the matter by the other side but the court must record it in the order.

"In view of the letter circulated by the counsel for the petitioners, which is not opposed by the counsel for the respondents, hearing is deferred till April 14, 2020," the bench said it its order.

On February 11 last year, Sibal had said, "There is no urgency in the matter. It can be heard any time. Let it be heard after the General elections".

ALSO READ | Gujarat 2002 riots case: Kin of victims disappointed at Supreme Court's bail order

Earlier, on January 15 last year, the adjournment was sought by the counsel for Jafri and the apex court had deferred the hearing for four weeks.

In all, the case has been adjourned five times since the petition was filed in 2018.

Jafri's counsel had earlier told the apex court that a notice needs to be issued in the plea as it relates to an alleged "larger conspiracy" from February 27 to May 2002, the period of riots and continued violence.

The court had 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 of the main case.

Ehsan Jafri, an ex-MP, 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 killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.

Jafri, had filed the petition in 2018 in the apex court, challenging the Gujarat High Court's October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT decision.

Her plea had 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".

The plea, filed through Bhatt, has said the high court "failed to appreciate" the petitioner's complaint which was independent of the Gulberg case registered at Meghaninagar Police Station.

On February 8, 2012, the Special Investigation Team 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.

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.

It 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.

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