Gujarat riots: On February 27, 2002, a crowd made up of members of the Muslim community set a Sabarmati Express coach on fire as it was returning from Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi site with passengers.
The Supreme Court dismissed a request for an inquiry into the “bigger conspiracy” connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots, which claimed over 1,000 lives, on Friday, claiming the request lacked merit.
A Gujarat court’s decision to accept a Special Investigation Team (SIT) closure report clearing 64 people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, of the larger conspiracy was upheld by a bench of justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar.
On Zakia Jafri and social activist Teesta Setalvad’s appeal of the report, the bench reserved judgement in December.
In 2011, the Supreme Court, which oversaw the investigation of the riot cases, instructed the SIT to look into the claims. The SIT submitted the closure report in February 2012. Before appealing to the highest court in 2018, the petitioners unsuccessfully contested the report before a trial court and the Gujarat high court.
The SIT objected to the bigger conspiracy investigation being reopened. Any attempt to do so, it was said, would have an impact on the outcomes of riot case trials and appeals currently before higher courts. 13 out of the 18 people caught on the tapes gave statements, and the SIT said that this proved the Tehelka sting to be inaccurate.
The petitioners’ senior attorney, Kapil Sibal, said that the accusations made against Modi were based on those made by retired police officer Sanjiv Bhat, who claimed to have been present at the meeting. Bhatt was not present during the meeting, hence the SIT came to the conclusion that there was no alternative way to corroborate the claims.