No clean chit yet

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The Apex Court points to a mismatch between the Gujarat SIT’s findings and its chairman’s inferences. Just as TEHELKA pointed out last month

By Kunal Majumder

ON 15 MARCH, the threemember Supreme Court Bench supervising the 2002 Gujarat riots probe met for the second time after TEHELKA published the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report (Here’s the smoking gun, 12 February). At the hearing, Justice Aftab Alam observed that “the SIT’s inferences and evidences do not match the findings”. TEHELKA’s perusal of the 600-page report, until then kept under wraps, revealed that, far from giving Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit, it faulted Modi with having a communal mindset, making inflammatory speeches, destroying crucial records, appointing Sangh members as public prosecutors, illegal positioning of ministers in police control rooms during the riots and persecution of neutral officers.

The judges commended amicus curiae R Ramachandran for his thorough analysis of the SIT report. Ramachandran was appointed on 2 December 2010 after prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan had recused himself from the case. The Gujarat government had alleged Bhushan was biased and had publicly aired views against Modi. Though details of Ramachandran’s analysis, submitted on 20 January, were not disclosed, Justice DK Jain pointed out that the amicus curiae suggested a thorough probe.

The judges instructed SIT Chairman RK Raghavan to submit a final report based on the suggestions made by Ramachandran before 25 April.

Shanti Bhushan, the counsel appearing for Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulberg Society riots, and Citizens for Justice and Peace, told the court that plenty of time has passed and there shouldn’t be more delays in registering an FIR against Modi and 61 others accused by his client.

The court has commended amicus curiae Ramachandran for his analysis of the report

THIRTEEN KEY findings pointed out by TEHELKA from the report record the Modi government’s abject failure in providing justice to the victims. Yet Raghavan had concluded that “the substantiated allegations did not throw up material that would justify further action under the law”. In other words, he thought there wasn’t enough evidence to file an FIR against the chief minister.

Meanwhile, fresh allegations have been made against key legal and investigative officials. Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil has accused the state government of using public money to shower favours on Raghavan to save Modi. Speaking at a rally, Gohil alleged that the state government had picked the airfare tab for the SIT chairman’s personal visits to London.

“I have definite information that several trips of Raghavan to London were financed by the Gujarat government in order to win him over,” he said. “These travel bills of Raghavan were cleared against all existing rules and norms of financial propriety. These pleasure trips were purely personal and private in nature and were not connected with the investigations into the post- Godhra riot cases.”

Gohil demanded that Raghavan should file an affidavit in the Supreme Court, giving details of all travel bills claimed by him. He says all attempts to get details of Raghavan’s travel bills through RTI had failed as the SIT had refused to part with the information stating that it was not a ‘public authority’. Gohil also alleges that Raghavan had “returned the favour” by exonerating senior government functionaries and politicians, including the chief minister.

Two weeks ago, TEHELKA’s exposé of the links between Harish Salve, the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae in another Gujarat riot case, and Modi had created a political furore in the state. A string of emails between Salve and senior officials of the Modi government showed how Salve lobbied for Eros Energy, a company promoted by London-based billionaire Kishore Lulla, with the Gujarat government.

Gohil has accused the gove-rnment of paying for Raghav-an’s London trips

Gohil alleges that Eros Energy got the contract that involves 200 hectares to set up a 25 MW solar power plant without even a tender or bid. “It is clearly a deal struck by the Gujarat government because Harish Salve is the amicus curiae in the cases involving Modi. The deal has been struck to influence and oblige the amicus curiae because Modi is guilty and scared of the Supreme Court,” claims Gohil.

Majumder is a correspondent with Tehelka
[email protected]

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