The verdict on the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among 68 people killed in the Gulbarg society massacre, is expected to give a major political boost to BJP and Modi, fighting hard to erase the taint of the riots that had claimed over 1000 lives, mostly Muslims. Truth alone triumphs, says Modi after court verdict Not 'disheartened' Zakia Jafri to appeal in Higher Court (Agencies)
"SIT closure report is accepted and prayers made in the protest petition are rejected," Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra said, pronouncing the verdict.
"No conspiracy can be proved against Chief Minister Modi and his cabinet as they showed alacrity in requisitioning the Army and took necessary steps to control the situation," he said.
The magistrate said there was no evidence to suggest that Modi had made a statement at a meeting with top officials following the Sabarmati Express burning incident at Godhra where he was claimed to have said Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger, a charge levelled by suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt.
"There is no evidence that Modi made the controversial statement (To let Hindus vent their ire) in the meeting of February 27, 2002. The court agrees with SIT conclusions on Narendra Modi and rejects the demand that he be charged for conspiracy and abetment of crime," the order said.
It further said, "The court finds it difficult to say that Modi deliberately ignored his duty during the riots."
Zakia had filed her protest petition on April 15 challenging the Supreme Court-appointed SIT's closure report absolving Modi of complicity in the conspiracy behind the riots.
74-year-old Zakia, who was present at the court, broke down after the verdict was out and said she will appeal against it in the higher court in a month.
Reacting to the verdict, a relieved Modi took to microblogging site Twitter to say, "Satyamev Jayete! Truth alone triumphs."
The court told Zakia's counsel Mihir Desai they can go and appeal against the judgement in a higher court.
The magistrate also rejected the testimonies of two prime witnesses of Zakia Jafri-- IPS officers Sanjiv Bhatt and R B Sreekumar.
"After a thorough study of the statements made by Bhatt and Sreekumar when compared with the material on hand, the court feels that prime facie they are incredible," the order said.
Bhatt, in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, had claimed he was present in the meeting held at the Chief Minister's residence on February 27, 2002 and had alleged that Modi instructed police officials to allow Hindus to vent their ire after the Godhra train burning incident in which 58 people, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, were killed.
"The allegations made by Bhatt cannot be substantiated in any form and the SIT has also established the fact that he was not present at the meeting," the order said.
The magistrate said, "Based on the material available on record and arguments put forward by different counsels, the court is of the view that complainant's allegations are general in nature and vague."
"After conducting an in-depth study of the material available on record on the allegations levelled against the accused, the court has found that the evidence are insufficient."
The order further said that to control the riots, "the army and para-military forces were requisitioned in the afternoon of February 28, 2002 by the Gujarat government and the Chief Minister had appealed to both the communities through Doordarshan to maintain peace and harmony".
"The only hurdle in the acceptance of SIT's recommendations was the protest petition and the protest petition was rejected, obviously the SIT report has been accepted. So, SIT's investigation, integrity, impartiality, all have been given a judicial stamp," R S Jamuar, SIT's counsel, told reporters after the verdict.
After completing its investigation on Zakia's complaint, the SIT had had filed its closure report on February 8, last year.
It had concluded that despite difficulties in obtaining evidence in the case because of the lapse of eight years, whatever material it could gather was not sufficient enough to prosecute those against whom allegations of hatching the conspiracy had been levelled.
Zakia had filed a complaint against 63 people, including Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officers and BJP functionaries accusing them of a wider conspiracy in the riots which left more than 1,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.
The apex court had ordered an inquiry into Zakia's complaint by SIT headed by CBI former director R K Raghavan.
The SIT had interrogated several people, including Modi, who was quizzed for more than nine hours in March 2010.
Senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran was appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to independently verify the SIT investigations. Ramchandran had also submitted his report to the Supreme Court and, according to Zakia, it had sufficient grounds to put Modi and others on trial.
Reacting to the verdict, SIT chief R K Raghavan said he felt "vindicated" and "professionally satisfied".
"In a sense I feel vindicated. Professionally I am extremely satisfied that our hard work has been upheld by the Ahmedabad court," he said.
"It was extremely hard work under tremendous adverse circumstances. I don't want to go into those adverse circumstances, you know what it is... I will sound very petty if I refer to all that was been made to subvert our work. We did a thorough job. I am happy that the court has approved our work," he said.
Referring to accusations of bias, he said, "I am apolitical, I am a former CBI director. I have no views on politics. I looked at it from the narrow point of view of the SIT. A job was given by the Supreme Court and we did that."
The verdict on the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among 68 people killed in the Gulbarg society massacre, is expected to give a major political boost to BJP and Modi, fighting hard to erase the taint of the riots that had claimed over 1000 lives, mostly Muslims.
Truth alone triumphs, says Modi after court verdict
Not 'disheartened' Zakia Jafri to appeal in Higher Court