Court rejects Teesta Setalvad`s plea on SIT report

A local court on Monday dismissed a plea by activist Teesta Setalvad and Amrish Patel seeking access to the Special Investigation Team’s report.

Ahmedabad: A local court on Monday rejected Zakia Jafri`s demand for access to preliminary report filed by AK Malhotra of Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Supreme Court during the inquiry into her complaint against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others with regard to 2002 riots.

Metropolitan Magistrate BJ Ganatra also rejected the plea of social activist Teesta Setalvad, seeking permission to inspect (on Zakia`s behalf) the original documents submitted by the SIT with its closure report.

Zakia, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots, had contended that Malhotra`s report and the remarks by R K Raghvan, SIT Chairman, were part of the `relevant material` which Supreme Court had asked SIT to provide to her.

But making a distinction between `inquiry` and `investigation`, the court held that Malhotra had submitted the reports following SC`s directions for `inquiry`.

"This court cannot order for the documents which investigating officer has not collected or taken in his custody during the course of investigation," the magistrate said and asked SIT to file an affidavit listing which of the documents (sought by Zakia) it does not have, by July 21.

Zakia had filed a complaint against Modi and others for a "larger conspiracy" in 2002 riots.

After filing its closure report on her complaint, SIT had handed over copies of all related documents to Zakia, but she also wanted preliminary reports filed by AK Malhotra.

Her lawyer, Mihir Desai, had said last time that SIT`s stand in Malhotra`s report was different from what it said in the final, closure report.

The closure report gave a clean chit to Modi. Now the Magistrate`s court has to pass its order on the report.

Advocate Desai had said that change in positions by SIT "is crucial and all reports filed in the Supreme Court should be looked into by this court before taking cognisance of and taking a final decision on the closure report."

But the Magistrate held today that preliminary report was a part of the inquiry, while closure report filed by Himanshu Shukla was a part of investigation of the complaint filed by Zakia in Maghaninagar police station.

The court also rejected Zakia`s demand to direct SIT to produce certain documents which were collected during its investigation in Naroda Patia and Gulberg Society massacre cases.

"Complainant`s demand seeking documents related to other rioting cases can not be granted," the court said.

Court also directed SIT to provide proper copies of those documents which are not "readable" to the complainant.

On the issue of inspection of the original documents submitted by SIT with the closure report, court directed Zakia to finish the inspection in the presence of her lawyers and officers deputed by SIT in five days.