While Bharatiya Janata Party hails the apex court's decision to refer Gulberg case to a trial court as Modi's victory, Congress says it's not a clean chit
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a trial court would hear the petition by Zakia Jafri, who alleged deliberate inaction on the part of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the killing of her husband Ehsan Jafri and dozens of others in Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society during the 2002 riots.
More than relieved: Party members rejoiced over the SC verdict that said a trial court would hear Jafri's petition againt Modi. File Pic
The plea by Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, also alleged inaction on the part of Modi's cabinet colleagues and some high-ranking state officials.
The court said the magistrate, before deciding on the complaint by Zakia Jafri, would issue her a notice and afford her an opportunity to be heard.
The court also asked the special investigation team (SIT) headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R.K. 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.
After that, the magistrate will take a final call on the alleged involvement of people named in the FIR.
BJP rejoices The political ripples were felt immediately. The BJP felt it was a "victory" for the chief minister and he would now play a bigger role in national politics, the Congress said there was no clean chit as the cast had gone to a lower court.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj congratulated Modi, saying truth has won (see box). Her colleague Balbir Punj added, "It is not just a relief for Modi, but a victory for Modi."
Stressing that at no stage did the party believe Modi was involved, Punj said the chief minister would now "play a much larger role in the national political scene".
Not over yet Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "Clean chit has not been given (to Narendra Modi). The case has been given to lower court."
He said Modi could not wash off "stain" of the 2002 riots.
According to rights activist Teesta Setalvad, it was a huge step forward.
"Our demands that an FIR be registered in the riots case and the CBI be handed over the case have been accepted by the apex court," she said.
Stating the media should not "misunderstand the order", she emphasised that the Supreme Court's order was a complex one. "The order was of due process and a huge step forward," she said.
That was scant consolation for Zakia Jafri, who told reporters in Surat that she was upset and disappointed. "I am upset and disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. I'm not saying that I don't believe in Supreme Court, but there is a possibility that they missed out on something.
"If the Supreme Court could not do anything, what can I expect from the lower court?" Her husband was amongst the 69 people killed that Feb 28, 2002, in Gulberg housing society of Ahmedabad when murderous, armed mobs attacked, a day after the train burning in Godhra. Initially, the government said that 38 people had been killed in Gulberg society. This was later revised to 69 after the SIT deemed in 2009 that all those missing would be counted amongst the dead.
'God is great' >> Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi thanked god after the Supreme Court verdict directing a trial court to hear the petition against him. "God is great," Modi tweeted on the microblogging site Twitter.
>> BJP leader Sushma Swaraj congratulated Modi, saying truth has won. "Narendrabhai has passed Agnipareeksha today. My heartiest congratulations to him. Satyameva jayate. Varshon baad aaj satya ki vijay hui," the veteran leader tweeted.