Ahmedabad: Contradicting SIT`s clean chit, the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae has held that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi can be prosecuted for offences under IPC in the post-Godhra riots of 2002 for "promoting enmity among different groups".
Raju Ramchandran, Supreme Court lawyer and amicus curiae, also differed with the report of the Special Investigation Team(SIT) headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan, which had rejected suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt`s allegations against Modi.
"In my opinion, the offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences inter-alia under Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) of IPC (promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion) and 153 B (1) (assertions prejudicial to national integration)," Ramchandran said in his 25-page report made public on Monday.
The report by Ramchandran on a complaint filed by Zakia Jaffrey, a riot victim, is in sharp contrast to the "clean chit" given to Modi and others by the SIT last month.
Modi can also be charged under IPC Section 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person, and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes, the amicus curiae said.
However, the same report says that as far as the SIT conclusion, with regard to the steps taken by the Chief Minister Modi to control the riots in Ahmedabad, is concerned, the same may be accepted "in the absence of any evidence to the contrary".
Ramchandran has based his conclusion about Modi on Bhatt`s deposition that Modi had given instructions in a meeting held on February 27, 2002 to "allow Hindus to vent their ire and teach Muslims a lesson in the wake of the Godhra train burning incident".
Despite the SIT rejecting Bhatt`s claims, his statements cannot be disregarded, the amicus curiae maintained.
Jaffrey was today handed over the SC-appointed panel`s report, along with that of the amicus curiae, by SIT in the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate.
Jaffrey`s husband, former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey, was among the 69 people killed in the riots at Gulberg Housing Society here over ten years ago.
Bhatt had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court
in this regard.
The most vital material, supporting the allegation made by the petitioner (Jaffrey) against Modi, is the statement of Bhatt, then DCP (Intelligence) in Ahmedabad, Ramchandran said in his report.
"The SIT has concluded that his version is not believable for various reasons - that the other senior officers present in the said meeting have not supported his claim of being present in that meeting and his statement, his silence for more than nine years without any proper explanation appears to be suspicious and a number of departmental and criminal proceedings have been instituted by the Government and hence, Shri Bhatt has an axe to grind with the Government of Gujarat," the report said.
"In my opinion, despite the aforesaid background (SIT rejecting Bhatt`s claims), it does not appear very likely that a serving police officer (Bhatt) would make such a serious allegation against Shri Modi, the Chief Minister, without some basis," said the amicus curiae (friend of the court).
"There is no documentary material of any nature whatsoever which can establish that Bhatt was not present at the meeting on 27.02.2002.
"Therefore, it is the word of Bhatt against the word of other officers, senior to him. The SIT has chosen to believe the word of the senior officers", Ramchandran said.
It was difficult to accept the SIT`s conclusion that Bhatt`s statement is motivated because he has an axe to grind with the State on issues of his career, the report said.
"Though the SIT, as the investigating agency, has
taken a view, the question whether Shri Bhatt was present at the meeting on 27.02.2002 and whether Shri Modi had indeed made such a statement (as spoken to by Shri Bhatt) can only be decided by a court of law. It would not be correct to disbelieve the version of Shri Bhatt at this prima facie stage", Ramchandran said.
"Hence, the question to be examined is whether the making of the statement by the Chief Minister in the meeting on 27.02.2002, by itself, is an offence under law," said the report submitted to the Supreme Court on July 25, 2011.
"I am of the view that Bhatt needs to be put through the test of cross-examination, as do the others who deny his presence," Ramchandran said.
However, Ramchandran has agreed with SIT findings with regard to the allegations by former BJP Minister Haren Pandya (a Modi detractor) who had alleged the CM had told the top police officers during the meeting to go soft on rioters.
"I agree with the SIT that Haren Pandya could not have been present in the meeting on 27.02.2002. Therefore, his statement regarding the alleged statement made by Modi in the said meeting may be disregarded."
Ramchandran further said, "as far as the observations of the SIT with regard to the Chief Minister`s statement on television on 01.03.2002 (regarding controlling riots) are concerned, the same may be accepted".
He pointed out that two of Modi`s Ministers in 2002 - I K Jadeja and Ashok Bhatt - were present in the state and Ahmedabad City Police Control Rooms respectively.
"The very presence of political personalities unconnected with the Home Portfolio at the Police Control Rooms is circumstantial evidence of the Chief Minister directing, requesting or allowing them to be present."
Regarding two senior police officials then posted in Ahmedabad - M K Tandon and PB Gondia - Ramchandran has differed with the SIT.
In its report, the SIT had said there should be departmental inquiries against them for their inaction in controlling the riots.
Ramchandran, however, said they should be tried in a court of law.