Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Zakia files criminal revision application in High Court, says magistrate's "clean chit" to Modi has no basis

By Our Representative
Slain MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Ahsan Jafri has filed criminal revision application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the order of the metropolitan magistrate rejecting her protest petition seeking top “arraign” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and 59 others on charges of “criminal conspiracy, abetment to commit mass murder, arson and rape and also tamper with evidence and destroy valuable records of the Gujarat home department.” She filed the revision appeal on March 15, 2014, which is expected to come up for hearing on March 20, 2014.
A statement issued by the Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ), which is backing Jafri, said, Jafri has prayed for the rejection of the closure report of the special investigation team (SIT) dated February 8, 2012. The magistrate had, on December 26, 2013 rejected the protest petition filed by Jafri. This happened despite “substantive arguments seeking to establishing strong suspicion of a conspiracy committed at the highest level were made by the petitioner’s advocates and detailed written and oral submissions”, the statement said.
Running into 540 pages, the criminal revision application points towards, according to the statement, “the double-faced role played by the SIT once the matter stopped being monitored by the Supreme Court and was handed over to the crime branch, Ahmedabad”. It added, “By not dealing with the substantive arguments laid down by Jafri in written and oral submissions, the judge has simply accepted the contentions in the closure report with a non-application of mind.”
The statement said, “The metropolitan magistrate failed to consider the following material that was put to establish prima facie the involvement of Modi in conspiracy and abetment:
“(I) Evidence on phone call contact between Modi and co-conspirators as soon as news of Godhra Incident occurred;
“(II) Failure to take preventive measures and instead support a bandh, allow post mortems of gruesome burned bodies in the open and, in short, allow the streets of cities and villages to be taken over by rampaging mobs;
“(III) Instructions to high-level policemen and bureaucrats to not follow the law and on the next day Cabinet Ministers were posted in control rooms to ensure that these illegal instructions were carried out; and
“(IV) Destruction of key records of the CMO and the home department and tampering with others to obstruct the cause of justice.”
It further said, “The magistrate erred in holding that neither Sanjiv Bhatt nor Haren Pandya’s presence at the meeting on February 27, 2002 could be believed. The magistrate erred in believing the versions of the other persons present at the meeting when they were themselves accused in the present case and could not be expected to tell the truth. The magistrate ought to have accepted the observation of the Amicus Curie that the matter needed to be tested in the trial.”
In fact, it said, the magistrate “ignored the contradictions in the statements of various accused regarding who was present and what was spoken at the meeting. The magistrate also erred in not relying on the statement of Sanjiv Bhatt’s driver. In fact the magistrate ought to have drawn adverse inference on the basis of the missing log book of the car.”
Then, the “magistrate … failed to appreciate the true significance of the statement made by Haren Pandya before the Concerned Citizens Tribunal before retired judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court.” He “failed to appreciate the statements given to the SIT in this connection by two retired judges: one of the Supreme Court and another of the High Court.”
In fact, the statement said, the magistrate “ought to have held that at least three witnesses, i.e. Sanjiv Bhatt, RB Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma, all serving officers had all testified (given evidence/statements) so as to bring out a case of conspiracy and involvement of the accused in various offences. He ought to have realized that the veracity of these witnesses could only have been tested during a criminal trial and there was no justification to disbelieve them at this stage.”
Pointing out that the magistrate also “erred in holding that the protest petition could not be treated as a complaint”, the statement concluded, he “completely ignored or failed to apply judicial mind to the fact that there was overwhelming evidence collected by the SIT itself to send the accused to trial.”
The statement has been signed by trustees of CPJ, I.M. Kadri, Nandan Maluste, Teesta Setalvad, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Akhtar, Alyque Padamsee, Anil Dharker, Ghulam Pesh Imam, Javed Anand, Rahul Bose and Cedric Prakash.



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