Top Court Defers Zakia Jafri’s Plea Hearing In Gujarat Riots Till January

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Zakia Jafri, widow of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, has challenged clean chit given to PM Modi

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court today adjourned till the third week of January next year, the hearing of a plea by Zakia Jafri in a case challenging a clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Zakia Jafri is the widow of Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress leader and MP, who was killed in one of the worst incidents during the 2002 Godhra riots.

Ms Jafri had challenged the decision to cancel her plea in the Gujarat High Court in 2017. The court had put aside the plea challenging the clean chit given to PM Modi.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who had appeared on behalf of the Special Investigating Team or SIT, which had given the clean chit, had earlier said that Ms Jafri's plea was not maintainable and had also argued against social activist Teesta Setalvad to be the second petitioner in the case, according to a PTI report.

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The Supreme Court previously said it would look into the application by Teesta Setalvad on becoming a co-petitioner in the ms Jafri's plea, according to PTI. Senior advocate CU Singh, appearing for Ms Jafri, said Teesta Setalvad should be made a second petitioner to assist her in the case, since Ms Jafri was 80-years-old.

Ms Jafri's counsel on the other hand, said that the plea pertained to an alleged "larger conspiracy" during the period between February 27, 2002 and May 2002. Her counsel had said that when the case was before the trial judge, a protest filed by the petitioner was set aside without considering "substantiated merits".

The SIT filed its closure report on February 8, 2012, citing "no prosecutable evidence" against PM Modi and 63 others, and handed all 64, including the PM, a clean chit.

Ms Jafri's plea in the Supreme Court says that the Gujarat High Court had "failed to appreciate" the petitioner's complaint. Ms Jafri sought an interim order to the SIT for carrying out a further investigation.

"The present Special Leave Petition is filed before this Court against the final judgement and order dated October 5, 2017 passed by the High Court of Gujarat…which erroneously upheld the order of the magistrate accepting the closure report filed by the Special Investigative Agency appointed by this Court concerning the violence in Gujarat in 2002," Ms Jafri, in her plea filed through advocate Aparna Bhat, submitted.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Hemant Gupta adjourned the plea of Ms Jafri till the third week of January next year.

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