Zakia Jafri #1: Petitioners Argue Case Not Limited to Events at Gulberg Society

Zakia Jafri and Gujarat Riots SIT

October 26th 2021

A three-judge Bench comprising Justices Khanwilkar, Maheshwari and Ravikumar started final hearings in a petition filed by Mrs. Zakia Jafri on October 26th, 2021. Jafri is the wife of Congress MP Mr. Ehsaan Jafri, who was killed in the 2002 riots in Gujarat. 

The Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Committee (SIT) had given a clean chit to 64 accused persons, including the then Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi after probing the 2002 riots. The magistrate’s court had accepted this conclusion, and taken no action upon a protest petition filed by Mrs. Jafri against the SIT’s report closing the investigation. In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court upheld the decision of the magistrate Court. Mrs. Jafri has challenged the High Court’s decision before the Supreme Court. She argues that the SIT and the magistrate’s court ignored key evidence. 

On October 26th, the Court heard Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Mrs. Jafri. Mr. Sibal argued that Mrs. Jafri’s complaints had not been limited to the incidents at Gulbarg Society, where her husband was killed, right from the beginning of this case. Even in her original FIR, she had complained of bureaucratic inaction, police complicity, hate speech and a ‘conspired, directed unleashing of violence’. The SIT also considered evidence of events other than Gulberg Society. Despite this, Mr. Sibal argued that the magistrate’s court refused to consider any evidence other than in relation to Gulberg Society. 

Mr. Sibal argued that even if the SIT had reported that no case was made out against the accused, the magistrate was duty bound to examine all evidence placed before him by the parties. However, in this case, the magistrate said it was barred from doing so since the Supreme Court had ordered him to look only at the SIT report. Mr. Sibal argued that this was not true. He stated that the complainant was left without any recourse to justice if the magistrate’s court, and then the high court refused to even look at the evidence she had produced. He emphasized that he did not wish to make this case political. He stated that this was an administrative law and order failure that had violated an individual’s rights. 

Khanwilkar J stated that the magistrate’s duties would depend on what crimes the SIT report was meant to be cognizant of. Hence, the Bench asked Mr. Sibal to take the Court through the closure report filed by the SIT. The Bench wishes to examine the reasons stated by the SIT for closing the investigation. These reasons will shed light on the magistrate’s decision to limit himself to examining the SIT report. 

Mr. Sibal will make his arguments about the SIT’s closure report on October 27th, 2021.