After SIT, will FIR be filed against Modi? : Countdown to Judgment Day of Zakia Jafri Case begins

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As the countdown to the Judgemnet Day of Zakia Jafri Case begins Hillele.org brings to you some of the important reports on Gujrat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his role in Gujrat riots.

After SIT, will FIR be filed against Modi?
Manoj Mitta, TNN, Mar 28, 2010, 01.19am IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/After-SIT-will-FIR-be-filed-against-Modi/articleshow/5733451.cms

TOI, 28 March 2010

NEW DELHI: The much-awaited interrogation of Narendra Modi for his alleged complicity in Gujarat riots has opened up several legal possibilities, including the prospect of an FIR being registered against him and 61 other persons who held powerful posts in 2002.
For, whatever questioning the Special Investigation Team did on Saturday, was part of a preliminary enquiry to determine whether the allegations made by Zakia Jafri, widow of riot casualty and former Congress MP Eshan Jafri, constituted a prima facie case and warranted initiation of formal investigations under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against Modi and the other accused.
If Modi has not been able to rebut any of the allegations in the course of his examination, SIT could recommend the FIR in its report. It is unlikely that it would straightaway register one as the Supreme Court had not expressly given it such a power.

An FIR opens up the possibility of Modi being questioned afresh to record his statement under Section 161 CrPC. More significantly, there is also the possibility of the accused being arrested, as the allegations pertain to conspiracy by the Modi administration and its errors of omission and commission leading to mass killings. But then, even when the FIR is booked against politicians, bureaucrats and police officers, it may or may not name Modi among the accused, depending on the outcome of SIT’s preliminary enquiry. Regardless of whether he is named in the FIR or not, the prospect of Modi facing the ignominy of a criminal trial in turn depends on whether he is chargesheeted at the end of the formal investigation that will be done under CrPC.

In the event of an FIR against Modi, SIT will not have to take any sanction to register it. But if it decides to chargesheet him, a governor’s sanction is needed.

Independent of whatever happens on Jafri’s complaint, there is a possibility of the Supreme Court accepting the application filed by activist Teesta Setalvad for a reconstitution of SIT because of the conflict of interest faced by the three Gujarat police officers who are part of it.

One of them, Shivanand Jha, is among the 62 accused persons named by Jafri. Besides, the special prosecutor in the Gulbarg case, R K Shah, quit his post last month accusing another SIT member, Ashish Bhatia, of trying to sabotage the case by forcing victim-eyewitnesses to change their testimony. Shah’s disclosures have already prompted the apex court to stay the trial proceedings in the Gulbarg case.

Given the backdrop of such allegations of partisanship against SIT, Modi told the media emphatically on Saturday that he had been questioned only by its non-Gujarat officers. He was referring to an internal arrangement under which Jafri’s complaint has been entrusted exclusively to former CBI officer, A K Malhotra, ostensibly keeping away Gujarat officers.

Such internal safeguards have proved ineffective as SIT’s credibility has come under question in all the nine cases for which it was originally set up. In the latest example, a witness cited by SIT in the Godhra train burning case alleged before the Supreme Court that he had been detained and tortured by its Gujarat officials last month to prevent him from deposing during the trial, as his testimony was contrary to the prosecution story.

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