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HC declines to stay SIT probe against Modi and others

June 05, 2009 20:56 IST
The Gujarat High Court on Friday declined to stay the fresh probe by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team or any other process against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in connection with the post-Godhra riots cases in 2002.

The court also issued notices to the state government and SIT members on a petition challenging the probe being carried out by the team. The petition filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly from Lunavada, Kalubai Hirabhai Malivad, one of them named in the complaint, appealed to the court to stay the investigations in the case and restrain SIT from arresting persons named in the complaint including Modi.

The complaint was made by Zakia Jaffrey, whose husband ex-Member of Parliament Ehsan Jaffrey was killed during the 2002 riots in Gulburg society along with 39 others.

Justice R H Shukla hearing the case refused to grant interim relief in the form of staying the investigation and any other process against Modi and others.

The Supreme Court had recently ordered the SIT to probe within three months a complaint by Zakia that Modi, his cabinet colleagues, police officials and senior bureaucrats aided and abetted post-Godhra riots of 2002.

Raising legal question on the investigation being carried out by SIT in Zakia's complaint, Malivad's counsel S B Vakil contended that the apex court has asked SIT to "look into" the complaint, and this doesn't empower it to investigate the case as per provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, as there is no First Investigation Report registered in this case.

Vakil also argued that the SIT was given powers for criminal investigation in nine cases by the apex court, wherein it could arrest the accused, but in Zakia's case, the SIT is not empowered either by CrPC provision or by the SC to arrest any person named in the complaint made by her.

Vakil further submitted that the SIT is not conferred with powers to arrest anyone in this case, as the apex court had asked the SIT to probe the case and not to register FIR against anyone.

He also argued that Zakia tried to lodge the FIR more than four years after the incident had taken place and particularly when a number of chargesheets in the Gulbarg case have been filed.

Even the SIT has also submitted its report to the SC after investigating the case for more than a year, he said, claiming that Zakia's attempt to register an FIR is nothing but abuse of process of court.

The court issued notices to the state home secretary, Zakia, social activist Teesta Setalvad, her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, besides six SIT officials including its chief R K Raghavan, Paramveer Singh, A K Malhotra, Geetha Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia. Next hearing on the matter has been scheduled for June 16.

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