Will a trial court in Gujarat ever prosecute Modi?

By TCN Staff Writer,

New Delhi: Given the way the judiciary in Gujarat has handled the riot cases in last nine years, one can hardly believe that a trial court in the state will be able to prosecute BJP chief minister Narendra Modi. The Supreme Court, which itself once had transferred some riot cases involving saffron foot soldiers to Maharashtra, has on Monday sent back Zakia’s case against CM to Gujarat for trial.

The development has left little hope for Zakia and other victims to get justice and this is clearly evident from the reactions of BJP and Modi himself on the apex court verdict. Even though the court has directed a trial court to proceed on the case, BJP and Modi have taken it as a victory. From their joyful reaction one can infer that they are least bothered about a local trial court taking up the case.

Reacting on the verdict, BJP on Monday said the Supreme Court directive to a trial court to hear a case against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the killing of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri during the 2002 riots was a “victory” for the chief minister.

Not just that, the party sees it as a clean chit and that’s why it said Modi will now play a bigger role in national politics.

“It is not just a relief for Modi, but a victory for Modi,” BJP spokesperson Balbir K. Punj told reporters adding Modi will play a bigger role in the national politics.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, has thanked God after the Supreme Court verdict. “God is great,” Modi tweeted on the microblogging site Twitter, IANS reported.

Zakia’s husband the late Member of Parliament, Ahsan Jaffri was burnt alive along with 37 others in 2002 in Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad. Zakia had approached the Supreme Court three years back after her all efforts to prosecute Modi and 62 others in the state failed – her FIR was not registered by police and then her case was dismissed by the Gujarat High Court.

On June 8, 2006, Zakia Jafri sought to register a first information report (FIR) against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others, including cabinet ministers, senior bureaucrats and policemen, under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for their role in the Gulberg Society massacre case. The Gujarat police failed to register the FIR though cognizable offences had been made out therein.

Zakia Jafri

Therefore, on March 1, 2007 Zakia and Citizens for Justice and Peace jointly filed a writ petition in the Gujarat High Court asking the court to issue orders so that the FIR may be registered. Moreover, given the state complicity at the highest level, they had demanded that the entire investigation is handed over to an independent agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

On November 1, 2007, the Gujarat High Court dismissed their Special Criminal Application forcing the complainants to approach the Supreme Court. They filed Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the high court judgment.

On April 27, 2009, the apex court asked the special investigation team (SIT) headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation director R.K. Raghvan to look into the complaint of Zakia Jafri alleging involvement of 63 people, including the chief minister, for their inaction during the Gulberg Society carnage.

Now today on September 12, 2011, the Supreme Court has directed a trial court to hear the petition by Zakia Jafri against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The court said the magistrate, before deciding on the complaint by Zakia Jafri, will issue her a notice and afford her an opportunity to be heard. The court also asked SIT headed by Raghvan to file its status report before the concerned magistrate. The amicus curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramachandran report, which differed with the findings of the SIT, is also to be referred to the magistrate.

Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi

In the petition, Zakia had alleged deliberate inaction on part of the Gujarat chief minister, his cabinet colleagues and some high-ranking state officials. In the 2002 incident, 37 people, including the former Congress MP Jafri, were killed. The rampaging mob targeted members of Muslim community in the Ahmedabad neighbourhood and set it afire.

Zakia’s petition had counted offences of Modi and his team

Details of offences with applicable sections of law

1. Criminal conspiracy and abetment to commit multiple offences of murder (Section 120 B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) read with (r/w) Section 114 (Abettor present when offence is committed) r/w Section 302 (Punishment for murder), Indian Penal Code (IPC)).

2. Furnishing false information (Section 177, IPC).

3. False statement made in declaration, which is by law receivable as evidence (Section 199, IPC).

4. Punishment for false evidence (Section 193, IPC r/w Section 6 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952).

5. Giving false information about an offence committed (Section 203, IPC).

6. Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class (Section 295, IPC); Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs (Section 295 A, IPC).

7. Uttering, words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings (Section 298, IPC).

8. Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions (Section 186, IPC).

9. Omission to assist a public servant when bound by law to give assistance (Section 187, IPC).

10. Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (Section 153 A, IPC).

11. Criminal intimidation (Section 506, IPC).

12. Mischief causing damage to public property (Section 3, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984).

13. Public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person (Section 166, IPC).

In support of her charges, Zakia had given details of evidence

Evidence in support of the charges

1. Instructions to the director general of police (DGP), the chief secretary and other senior officials to give vent to the Hindu anger against minority Muslims in the wake of the Godhra incident. Meeting held in Gandhinagar on the evening of February 27, 2002, as testified in Affidavit No. 4 dated October 27, 2005 of additional director general of police (ADGP), RB Sreekumar, before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

2. The chief minister (CM)’s decision to bring dead bodies of those killed in the Godhra train fire to Ahmedabad and parade them in Ahmedabad city, as testified by Ashok Narayan, former addl. chief secretary, home department, in his cross-examination before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

3. Numerous illegal instructions given verbally to officials as detailed in Affidavit No. 3 dated April 9, 2005 of RB Sreekumar before the Nanavati-Shah Commission (Annexure F).

4. Evidence contained in Crime Against Humanity, Concerned Citizens Tribunal report, Gujarat 2002, by a panel of judges, Justices VR Krishna Iyer, PB Sawant and others, which included testimonies of officials and a cabinet minister of the state of Gujarat.

5. Positioning cabinet ministers, IK Jadeja and Ashok Bhatt, in the DGP’s office and Ahmedabad city control room respectively. DGP Chakravarti was critical of the minister, IK Jadeja, remaining in his office, as testified by RB Sreekumar in para 85 of his fourth affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

6. Transfer of officers from field executive posts in the thick of the riots in 2002 despite the DGP’s objections (as per media reports), to facilitate placement of those who were willing to subvert the system for political and electoral benefits.

7. Rewarding of senior officials with undue benefits even while their conduct is under scrutiny at the Nanavati-Shah Commission. The latest instance was the six-month extension as state vigilance commissioner awarded to Ashok Narayan, who has already completed two years in the above post-retirement placement. The orders were issued on July 28, 2006.

8. No follow-up action on the reports sent by RB Sreekumar on April 24, 2002, June 15, 2002, August 20, 2002 and August 28, 2002 about the administration’s anti-minority stance. Copies of these reports are appended in Affidavit No. 2 dated October 6, 2004 of RB Sreekumar before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

9. Indictment by the Supreme Court about the injustices carried out against the minority community and riot victims in the investigation of riot cases in respect of 1) the Bilkees Bano case, 2) the Best Bakery case.

10. Partisan investigations betraying prejudice against riot victims belonging to the minority community, as indicated by Rahul Sharma, the then superintendent of police (SP), Bhavnagar district, and now SP (CBI), Gandhinagar, during his cross-examination before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

11. The CM, Narendra Modi, did not visit the riot affected areas during the initial days of the violence though he visited the Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002 itself.

12. The press statement by Narendra Modi that the reaction against the Muslim community was the operation of Newton’s law of action and reaction.

13. No direction from Narendra Modi to Hindu organisations against the observance of a bandh on February 28, 2002. (In 1997 and subsequently, the Kerala High Court has declared forced bandhs illegal; the 1997 verdict was even upheld by the Supreme Court.)

14. Delay in the requisition and deployment of the army although anti-minority violence had broken out on the afternoon of February 27, 2002 itself, in the cities of Vadodara, Ahmedabad, etc.

15. Appointment of pro-VHP advocates as public prosecutors in riot cases though as home minister (cabinet rank) the CM had the necessary means at his disposal to verify the credentials and integrity of these advocates.

16. Refusal to transfer officers from the grass root level, as per the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB)’s recommendation, until the arrival of KPS Gill as security adviser to the CM in May 2002. Gill ensured the above transfers and this led to a dramatic improvement in the situation, as indicated in RB Sreekumar’s second affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

17. No action taken against the print media carrying communally inflammatory reports although the SIB and some field officers had recommended such action, as noted in Affidavit No. 1 of RB Sreekumar dated July 6, 2002 and during his cross-examination before the Nanavati-Shah Commission on August 31, 2004. (It is the state home department that is empowered to give clearance for initiating action against the print media.)

18. The state home department provided misleading reports about normalcy in the state to the Chief Election Commission (CEC) so as to ensure early assembly elections. The home department’s assessment was adjudged as false by the CEC in its open order dated August 16, 2002. As per the register recording verbal instructions from higher echelons of government (the CM and others) maintained by RB Sreekumar, in his third affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission it is noted that he was directed by home department officials to give favourable reports about the law and order situation so as to facilitate the holding of early elections.

19. State secretary, home department, GC Murmu, was presumably specially assigned to tutor, cajole and even intimidate officials deposing before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, to prevent them from telling the truth and harming the interests of the CM and the ruling party, as noted in RB Sreekumar’s third affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

20. GC Murmu’s mission was to try and ensure that officials did not file affidavits relating to the second term of reference of the Nanavati-Shah Commission, in particular, the role of the CM and other ministers in the riots.

21. Initiating no action against senior police officers, whose work is administered by the home department, for their grave dereliction of duty in the supervision of the investigation of serious offences as envisaged in Rules 24, 134, 135 and 240 of the Gujarat Police Manual-Vol. III, as noted in para 94 of RB Sreekumar’s fourth affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.

22. Did not initiate departmental action against the then SP of Dahod district, SP Jadeja, for his gross misconduct and negligence during investigations into the Bilkees Bano case despite recommendations to that effect by the CBI which reinvestigated the case as per the directions of the Supreme Court.

23. Investigating officers in the Naroda Patiya and the Gulberg Society cases did not investigate the compact disc (CD) containing records of important telephone calls made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and police officers during the riots. Rahul Sharma, SP (CBI), had submitted this CD to the Nanavati-Shah Commission in 2004. In May 2007 the commission ordered an inquiry into this matter, as per media reports.

A horrible scene of Gujarat riot 2002

24. A situation conducive to the rehabilitation of riot victims has not been created, contrary to the claims made by the state administration in its reports to the National Human Rights Commission. Instead, riot victims were pressurised into compromising with the perpetrators of the violence as a condition precedent for their safe return to their homes and their rehabilitation.

25. Police inaction on investigating the roots and extent of the criminal conspiracy, linked to their participation in it.

26. No minutes or written notes of the meetings held by the CM and senior bureaucrats were issued, and instructions were mainly conveyed on the telephone. The non-issuance of such minutes/notes served the twin objectives of 1) Field officers carrying out the conspiracy of a pogrom against the minority and 2) Avoidance of subsequent monitoring of actions by jurisdictional officers in the field.

27. No action has been taken against officers like K. Chakravarti, then DGP; PC Pande, then commissioner of police (CP), Ahmedabad city; Ashok Narayan, then addl. chief secretary, and a large number of senior government functionaries who filed incomplete, inaccurate, vague and inadequate affidavits before the Nanavati-Shah Commission. Virtually no officer provided important documents relevant to the terms of reference of the commission as exhibits either in affidavits or during their cross-examination.

28. Slack review of post-riot cases, a review ordered by the Supreme Court in 2004. This was achieved by entrusting the work to those senior officers who were willing or constrained to act according to the political interests of the CM and the BJP.

29. Nepotism practised in postings, transfers, promotions, etc despite mounting vacancies in police departments so as to facilitate the ongoing subversion of the criminal justice system.

30. The fact that the main victims of the riots were Muslims, and the violence and police firing were targeted predominantly at the Muslim community will establish that rioters, the administration, cohorts of the ruling party (BJP), were working in collaboration to achieve the vile objectives of the CM. Statistics in this respect may be seen in RB Sreekumar’s second affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, particularly in para 3 of Appendix V therein.

The nature of offences detailed and the quantum of evidence delineated above categorically establish that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had violated and has been violating his oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India. Further, through a series of preconceived, and pre-planned illegal actions, he carried out and has been pursuing actions challenging, violating and subverting the letter, spirit and ethos of the Constitution.

The list of accused persons in Zakia’s petition

1. Chief Minister Narendra Modi

2. Ashok Bhatt, then Minister for health, presently Minister for Law and Judiciary, Health and Family Planning, Parliamentary affairs, NGOs etc

3. Indravijaysinh Jadeja, then Minister of Urban Development Add. Health & Family Welfare, presently Minister for Road and Buildings, Capital Projects, etc

4. Prabhatsinh Pratapsinh Chauhan, former Minister for transport, presently Minister for Cow breeding, Devasthan Managment & Pilgrimage

5. Gordhan Zadaphiya, MLA and former Minister for home, Gujarat and presently MLA from Rakhial, Ahmedabad

6. Ranjitsingh Naharsinh Chawda, MLA and Former Minister for cottage industries, & Shri Vajpayee Swarojgar Yojna

7. Kaushikkumar Jamnadas Patel, presently Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, in 2002 an elected MLA from the Shahpur, Ahmedabad, then Minister of Energy

8. C.D. Patel, presently Minister for Tourism, Holy Places, Pilgrimages and Cooperation; in 2002 an elected MLA from the Petlad constituency, Gujarat

9. Niteenbhai Ratibhai Patel, former MLA in 2002 Mehsana, Minister of Finance.

10. Amitbhai Anilchandra Shah, presently Home Minister, and MLA from Sarkhej constituency Ahmedabad

11. Anil Tribhovandas Patel (Apollo Group) and MLA from Mehsana,

12. Narayan Lalludas Patel, MLA from Unjha, Then Minister of Transport (Independent Charge)

13.Kalubhai Hirabhai Maliwad, MLA from Lunawada, Former Taluka Panchayat Pramukh, Presently BJP MLA, Lunawada.

14.DilipbhaiManibhai Patel, MLA from Anand

15. Madhu Babubhai Srivastava, MLA from Waghodiya

16. Dr Maya Kodnani, elected MLA in 2002 and presently from Naroda, Ahmedabad

17. Nalin Kantilal Bhatt, General Secretary, Bhartiya Janata Party,

18. Rajendra Sing Rana, Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party; Then and Presently Member of Parliament from Bhavnagar,

19. Dr. Kaushikbhai Jamnashanker Mehta, Joint Secretary, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Gujarat.

20. Dr Praveen Togadia, International general secretary, VHP

21. Dr. Jaideep Patel, Gujarat Secretary, Vishwa Hindu Parishad,

22. Babu Bajrangi Patel, Member Bajrangdal, VHP.

23. Prof Keshavram Kashiram Shastri, Chairman of the Gujarat unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad,

24.Babubhai Rajput, BJP Worker

25. K Chakravarti, Former Director General of Police, Government of Gujarat

26. A. K. Bhargava, Former DGP/ IGP of Police,

27. Subha Rao, IPS, 1965, Former Chief secretary, Government of Gujarat posted as Chairman Electricity Regulatory Authority from 2003 (6 year posting).

28. Ashok Narayan, 1966 IAS Batch , Former Home secretary, Government of Gujarat .

29. P. C. Pande, Former Commissioner of police, Ahmedabad

30. K Srinivasan, Former Collector, of Ahmedabad.

31. Dr PK Mihsra, IAS, 1972, then PS to the Chief Minister also Director, Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, today Additional Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs, Gujarat

32. Kuldeep Sharma, IPS, 1976, in 2002 Range Incharge

33. M.K. Tandon, IPS 1976, then in 2002 Additional CP Ahmedabad,

34. K. Nityananand IPS 1977, former Home Secretary, presently Commissioner of Police Rajkot city

35. Rakesh Asthana, IPS, 1984, then Vadodara Range

36. A.K.Sharma, IPS 1987 former SP Mehsana now promoted to Range Ahmedabad

37. G.C. Murmu, Secretary, Law and Order,

38. Shivanand Jha, Secretary, Home,

39. D.H. Brahmbhatt, Collector, Panchmahals,

40. Deepak Swaroop, IPS 1976, presently Commissioner of Police, Vadodara; formerly Range Officer at Vadodara Range

41. Sudhir Sinha, presently Commissioner of Police, Surat

42. K. Kumarswami, IGP Int.

43. B. S. Jabaliya, District Police Chief, Anand

44. D.G.Vanzara, IPS, 1987 formerly DIGP Ahmedabad Crime Branch from May 2002 to July 2005 presently posted as DIG Anti Terrorism Squads, State of Gujarat

45. Satish Verma, Batch 1986 IPS formerly Range DIGP Kutch now SRP Training Centre, Sorath, Junagadh

46. Raju Bhargava, then SP, Superintendent of police (SP), Panchmahal District, now SP Sabrakantha

47. Anju Sharma, then Collector Bharuch District

48. D.D. Tuteja, (IPS) now retired then Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city;

49. Bhagyesh Jha, former Collector of Vadodara; Presently Director of Information, I & B Department, Gandhinagar,

50. Nitiraj Solanki, then SP, Sabrakantha District

51. Amrutlal Patel, then in 2002, Collector Mehsana District; Presently Collector of Administration Indian Space Research Organisation (IPRO)

52. Upendra Singh, then in 2002 SP, Rakjot District.

53. P.N. Patel then collector in 2002, Rajkot District

54. V. M. Pargi; Then in 2002 DCP (Deputy commissioner of police)

55 . PI (Police inspector) KG Erda, then at Meghaninagar Police Station; Former PI C.I.D Intelli. Viramgam. Presently P.I. (L.C.B)

56. PI Kerman Khurshed Mysorewala, then PI Naroda Police Station, Ahmedabad, at present Reader to D.I.G.P, Gandhinagar

57. M.T. Rana, Assistant Police Commissioner, G-Division, Ahmedabad City

58. Tarun Barot, Crime Branch. Former & Presently Police Inspector

59. Narendra Amin, DCP Crime Branch, Ahmedabad

60. G.C. Raiger, IPS (1972) the then ADGP – Intelligence,

61. KR Kaushik, IPS 1972 former Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad

62. Amitabh Pathak, IPS (1977). Range IG of Gandhinagar Range.

63. Satish Verma, At present S.R.P, Training Centre, Sorath, Junagadh.