Gujarat riots 2002: Supreme Court adjourns by two weeks hearing of Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging SIT clean chit to Narendra Modi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing by two weeks in a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri challenging the Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots.

The matter was listed on Monday before the three-judge bench led by Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari.

Jafri is the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who had been hacked to death in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society by a rioting Hindu mob during the carnage.

Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots took place – arguably the worst communal pogrom witnessed in India since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots – which claimed over 2000 lives of people of the minority Muslim community.

On the previous hearing on March 16, 2021, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, the Counsel for Zakia Jafri, sought an adjournment to April 13, 2021, since several advocates were occupied with the Maratha reservation case before the Constitution bench.

Appearing for the Gujarat Government, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had opposed Sibal’s request for adjournment and said the case should be heard in the following week. Like Mehta, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the SIT, said the matter should be decided and had opposed the adjournment request.

The court had on March 16, said that no more adjournment request will be accepted by the court from either side on the fixed date of hearing.

In February 2020, the Supreme Court had fixed the case for hearing on April 14, 2020, saying the matter had been adjourned many times and will have to be heard some day.

Earlier, Jafri’s counsel had told the Supreme Court that a 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, a former Member of Parliament, was among the 68 killed at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002, a day after the Sabarmati Express was burned at Godhra killing 59 people and resulting in riots in the state.

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In February 2012, the SIT had 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. Zakia Jafri had filed a petition in Supreme Court in 2018, challenging the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the decision of the SIT.
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