Gujarat – Contours of a conspiracy


Frontline May, 2013

A protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri weaves together evidence, from contemporaneous phone and police control room records, pointing to the role of the powers that be in manipulating the Godhra incident to plan the violence against the Muslim community. By TEESTA SETALVAD

Criminal conspiracy under the law is defined as an agreement between at least two persons to commit one or more illegal acts or acts by illegal means. By its criminal intent, such a conspiracy is masterminded under a cloak of secrecy. When, and if, such a conspiracy involves a powerful, constitutionally elected head of a state, it is unlikely that the masterminding of such a series of dastardly criminal acts will be closely recorded (minuted).

The first, sharp indication that the series of acts of commission and omission by the Gujarat government under its Chief Minister in 2002, following the tragedy at Godhra, came in succinct terms from the former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, who was heading the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): “The Commission would like to observe at this stage that it is the primary and inescapable responsibility of the State to protect the right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of all of those who constitute it. It is also the responsibility of the State to ensure that such rights are not violated either through overt acts, or through abetment or negligence. It is a clear and emerging principle of human rights jurisprudence that the State is responsible not only for the acts of its own agents, but also for the acts of non-State players acting within its jurisdiction. The State is, in addition, responsible for any inaction that may cause or facilitate the violation of human rights” (Interim and final reports, 2002). The NHRC was also scathing in its observations regarding the blatantly discriminatory governance displayed by the government of the day —differential rates of compensation and an obdurate refusal to visit the relief camps (1,68,000 persons were forcibly displaced because of the violence and arson) where innocent members of the minority community were housed, having been made to “pay” for the “heinous” crime at Godhra.

The report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal (Crimes Against Humanity—Gujarat 2002), headed by Justices V.R. Krishna Iyer, P.B. Sawant and Hosbet Suresh, further detailed the gruesome conspiracy, making sharp and telling recommendations. While these reports were being documented, in parallel, chilling corroboration of the depth of the planning behind the perpetrated violence came from serving Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of the Gujarat government, former ASGP Intelligence R.B. Sreekumar, and S.P. Bhavnagar and DCP Crime Branch Rahul Sharma. They filed their affidavits before the Nanavati-Shah Commission within months of the violence. By 2004, when two of the criminal trials arising out of the state-perpetuated carnage, the Best Bakery and the Bilkees Bano cases, had been transferred out of Gujarat for trial, these officers had been examined by the Nanavati-Shah Commission, and Sharma had produced a CD of five lakh phone records that provided more evidence of complicity and planning behind the attacks.

All this material was put together in a criminal complaint by Zakia Ahsan Jafri, assisted by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), and sent to the by then Director General of Police (DGP) P.C. Pandey, an officer seriously indicted for connivance in allowing Ahmedabad to burn for weeks in 2002. He had been the happy recipient of a series of promotions by the man at the helm, the State’s Home Minister who was, and is, also the Chief Minister. Expectedly, this criminal complaint dated June 8, 2006, was treated with contempt, compelling Zakia Jafri and the CJP to petition the Gujarat High Court and later the Supreme Court of India for an order for the registration of a first information report (FIR) against the 60-plus accused. Today, arguments for and against charge-sheeting the 59 accused (two have since died, former Health and Law Minister Ashok Bhatt and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP, ideologue Prof. K.K. Shastri) have begun before a magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad.

Unique legal effort

The courts will adjudicate on a unique legal effort at pinning criminal and administrative culpability and responsibility on the political and administrative leadership and the frontrunners of non-state actors (from the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, or RSS, and the VHP) who were given the run of Gujarat’s streets. Between 2006, when the complaint was first sent to the DGP, Gujarat, to September 12, 2011, when the Supreme Court gave the complainants the right to approach a court in Ahmedabad, a detailed (if wanting) investigation was completed and, in criminal law terms, the stage was set for charge-sheeting some or all of the accused. In the interim, finding the high-profile Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by it wanting, the Supreme Court of India had on May 5, 2011, directed the amicus curiae in the case, Raju Ramachandran, to assess the evidence—he found enough material to prosecute accused number 1, the State’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and at least three others. The SIT, in its final report filed on February 8, 2012, gave a clean chit to everyone.

Students of law and politics can learn much from a close study of this legal drama. Serious efforts at weaving together the threads of the sinister and massive conspiracy that had been alleged in the complaint were expected from such a high-profile SIT. From the start, however, the SIT deliberately set its bar low, preferring to look at only stray, discreet and superficial aspects alleged in the complaint, deliberately ignoring the import and consequences of a series of criminal and negligent acts and their impact. It ignored contemporaneous documentary evidence, the systematic use of instigative vitriol by the state and non-state accused, and rigidly refused to record statements of independent agencies like the officers of the Indian Army and Central intelligence who were privy to the consummate failures of the time.

It is no wonder then that it took the complainant, Zakia Jafri, a whole year after the final report was filed by the SIT on February 8, 2012, to get the Supreme Court to order full and complete access to all the documents and investigation reports, on February 7, 2013. The SIT did everything within in its power not just to give a clean chit to all the powerful accused but to deny the complainant her legal and moral right to access all investigation papers to facilitate and lend meaning and authority to a comprehensive protest petition.

Evidence of a cold-blooded conspiracy to manipulate the tragic Godhra incident—from the moment of the terrible news—has emerged. The petition weaves together evidence from an analysis of phone records, as also documentary contemporaneous records, and alleges that the conspiracy involved the Chief Minister, accused number 1, who was in close consultation with the then Health Minister Ashok Bhatt (accused no. 2), Urban Development Minister I.K. Jadeja (accused no. 3) and other co-accused Cabinet colleagues, and especially VHP leader Jaideep Patel (accused no. 21), to fully exploit the tragedy at Godhra for fuelling the meticulously planned massacre of Muslims all over Gujarat. The petition makes the following points:

Phone call records show that Narendra Modi was in close touch with Jaideep Patel immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy came in, even before he met Home Department officials and Ministers. Thereafter, there was a hasty and publicly conducted post-mortem at Godhra, out in the public against all law and procedure while a crowd of VHP workers was present. Narendra Modi was present while this happened. While passions were being so cynically stoked, another decision to hand over the bodies of Godhra victims to VHP strongman Jaideep Patel was taken at a mini Cabinet meeting presided over by the Chief Minister in Godhra, at which the co-accused Ministers were present. Jaideep Patel too was present at the meeting. Senior members of the administration and police were intimidated and neutralised. Other co-accused, the then Gujarat Director General of Police, K. Chakravarti (A-25), the then Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad, P.C. Pandey (A-29), the then additional Chief Secretary, Home, Ashok Narayan (A-28), and other key members of the bureaucracy and police were co-conspirators.

The SIT seems to have deliberately ignored the documentary evidence collected during the investigation. Key field reports from the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) from all the districts were given to the SIT by January 2010, that is, a full three and a half months before the SIT submitted its first investigation report to the Supreme Court on May 12, 2010. These reports reveal a grim ground-level reality: gross provocations and bloodthirsty slogans by VHP workers from 4 p.m. onwards on the afternoon of February 27, 2002 (“Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge”, blood for blood) while Narendra Modi had still not left for Godhra. The late-night meeting at Narendra Modi’s residence effectively neutralised the police and the administration from doing its constitutional duty. The protest petition states that the credibility of the evidence relating to the critical February 27, 2002, meeting must be tested during trial and that it was not the job of the investigating agency to pre-judge the issue, acting like a court, overstepping its jurisdiction to protect and save the powerful accused. This is also what the amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran, had opined.

Damning evidence

Evidence from the Police Control Room (PCR) records submitted by P.C. Pandey to the SIT after March 15, 2011 (that is, after the Supreme Court ordered the SIT to further investigate the complaint of Zakia Jafri dated June 8, 2006) reveals a cynical and cold-blooded mobilisation of RSS workers and VHP men at the Sola Civil Hospital from 4 a.m. onwards on February 28, 2002, in aggressive anticipation of the arrival of the dead bodies. Yet, both the SIT reports state that the funeral processions were peaceful. Repeated PCR messages, messages that the Home Department under Narendra Modi (A-1, who held the Home portfolio) and P.C. Pandey (A-21) were trying to conceal, show that both in Ahmedabad and in several locations all over Gujarat, crowds were mobilised to parade bodies with bloodthirsty sloganeering, inciting mobs to attack innocent Muslims. Repeated PCR messages desperately ask for bandobast; they speak of the staff and doctors of the hospital being under threat; of a 5,000-6,000-strong mob accompanying the bodies and, finally, one message also says that “riots have broken out”. Equally volatile mobilisations were allowed simultaneously at Khedbrahma, Vadodara, Modasa, Dahod, Anand, and so on. A cynical government under Narendra Modi and his co-accused have done their best to conceal this evidence. The SIT ignored such hard documentary evidence completely.

The PCR records also reveal that the Ahmedabad Police under P.C. Pandey and the Home Department under Narendra Modi and the then Minister of State, Home, Gordhan Zadaphiya (A-5) had enough forces to escort a VHP leader known for his inciteful slogans, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, from the airport to the Sola Civil Hospital to accompany the processionists. But they did not have enough forces to protect the hapless citizens of Naroda Patiya and Gulberg, where over 200 persons were massacred the same day. Narendra Modi allowed and openly supported the bandh during which RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal mobs had a free run of the streets.

Judicially, the Modi government has received several reprimands, and even warnings, right from the 2004 Best Bakery case to the more recent findings of the higher courts, for its attitude towards the rebuilding of 297 masjids and durgahs wilfully destroyed in 2002. Yet, the same government which has received consistent and serious setbacks on issues relating to constitutional governance won three elections. A serious dilemma or battle between electoral and constitutional governance?

 

#India – Mother courage against #Narendramodi


Dileep Padgaonkar 
21 April 2013, 02:34 PM IST

Zakia Jafri deserves accolades for her grit and determination to get justice for her slain husband.

On April 24,  a magistrate in Ahmedabad will begin daily hearings on a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of the slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging the clean chit that the Special Investigation Team gave Narendra Modi’s for his alleged role in the Godhra and post-Godhra violence in 2002. She contends that the SIT overlooked masses of evidence – including dispatches filed by the intelligence department and detailed records of cell-phone calls made on Februray  28, the day on which her husband and 70 others were killed in the city’s Gulberg Society – to save the Gujarat chief minister’s skin.

The calls indicate that as soon as he was he informed about the burning of the train at Godhra, Modi contacted not his senior officials first but the secretary of the Gujarat unit of the VHP, Jaideep Patel, and asked him to go post-haste to the site of the gruesome incident. There Patel ensured that the bodies were handed over to him and not, as is the prevalent practice, to the next of kin. He then hauled them in trucks and, ignoring police warnings, orchestrated a procession of the bodies through the streets of Ahmedabad. This brazen attempt to provoke communal fury had the desired effect: death and destruction on a scale that shamed India.

The fact that the Supreme Court first allowed Zakia Jafri access to a truck-load of documents compiled by the SIT and also permitted her to file the petition was a clear indication that in the eyes of the apex court Modi is not entirely off the hook. That realization probably explains why he sought the death penalty for two individuals convicted for their actions during the riots: Maya Kodnani, who once served in his cabinet, and Babu Bajrangi, a VHP activist. But far from giving himself a freshly minted secular image, this move has triggered indignation in the ranks of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Shiv Sena. And it has further alienated him from his critics within the BJP, especially from L.K. Advani who had doted on Kodnani.

Nor has he succeeded  in detracting attention from Zakia Zafri’s petition. It should finally settle the matter one way or the other. Regardless of its outcome, however, the remarkable courage that this frail and elderly lady has shown over more than a decade to get to the bottom of the communal carnage must command respect and admiration. Despite repeated legal set-backs, she never wavered in her determination, nor did she once fear the consequences of defying the Gujarat strong-man.

No less significant is her undiminished faith in the judiciary. Time and again she has vowed to abide by its verdict once she exhausts all legal remedies available to her as a citizen of the republic. For a woman who has borne untold suffering, such faith is touching beyond words. And such grace and dignity under intolerable pressure is quite simply miraculous.

But tough times await Modi even if the magistrate hearing Zakia Jafri’s petition endorses the SIT’s conclusions. According to a report published in the Sunday Times of India, two senior police officers made numerous calls to the chief minister’s office during two encounters: one that killed Sohrabuddin Shaikh on 26 November 2005 and another that killed Tulsiram Prajapati on 28 December 2006. Modi’s minister of state at that time, Amit Shah, is an accused in these two cases. He was recently given a plum job in the highest echelons of the BJP.

Public pressure will now mount on the CBI to take cognisance of these calls – something that the investigation agency apparently failed to do even though it was in possession of the details. At some point or the other, the kin of the victims, or human rights organizations, or both, will petition the courts to order  a probe. Moreover, even those sections of the media that are enamoured of the Gujarat chief minister’s record in office – effective and clean governance, speedy economic growth, a no-nonsense attitude to security issues etc – will find it hard to ignore the ghost of Godhra that is certain to haunt him in the weeks and months ahead.

As it happens, these weeks and months are crucial for Modi to reinforce his claim that none other than he can lead the BJP-led NDA to rout the two-term, scam-ridden, indecisive UPA in the next general elections. The one who is best placed to thwart his prime ministerial ambitions is not Rahul Gandhi, nor Nitish Kumar nor even his detractors within his own party’s fold but Zakia Jafri. She has emerged as the Mother Courage of an India that abides by the letter and spirit of its Constitution and by the ethos of its pluralistic culture.

It is a pity that there is no such Mother Courage to expose the criminal shenanigans of the likes of Jagdish Tytler and many others who lost their lives in communal riots under the watch of the Congress and that of other self-appointed votaries of secularism for decades.  But that cannot detract attention from what the courts have in store for the zealous prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi: either a squeaky-clean image of constitutional rectitude or an image that is forever tainted with bias, prejudice and worse against our minorities

Another closure report, another cover-up ? #Narendramodi


MODI1

Javed Anand, Asian Age, april 20, 2013

SIT’s closure report into the Godhra riots has left far too many questions unasked, and provided answers that are highly questionable

On April 10, a Delhi court rejected, for the second time, the closure report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2009, claiming it could not find any credible evidence to chargesheet Congress leader Jagdish Tytler for his role in the massacre of innocent Sikhs in the nation’s capital in 1984. The CBI has been ordered to reinvestigate yet again.

On April 15, Zakia Jafri, a survivor of the February 28, 2002, carnage at Gulberg Society, filed a 514-page Protest Petition (along with an annexure of 983 pages and nine CDs) before a magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad challenging the closure report filed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). The closure report absolves Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 58 top politicians, BJP and VHP leaders, and IAS and IPS officials of criminal offences that Mrs Jafri alleged in her complaint dated June 8, 2006, were committed by them. Read the petition (www.cjponline.org) to see why it’s more than likely that the SIT’s clean chit is headed for a similar fate.
Mrs Zakia Jafri, now around 75 years of age, was an eyewitness to the gruesome killing of her husband, former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, and 68 others at Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar, Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002. When Jafri finally surrendered to the mob — after six long hours of nearly a hundred desperate phone calls, including to chief minister Mr Modi, drew a blank — he was dragged, paraded around with his limbs chopped, one at a time, before being flung into the raging flame. Mrs Jafri, who has since been living with her son in Surat, says that her fight for justice will continue till her last breath.
Mrs Jafri’s protest petition (backed as it is by official investigation records and documents that SIT made available to her under Supreme Court orders) not only reinforces her earlier allegations, but also accuses the SIT of a blatant cover up job — “SIT has taken great pains to disbelieve and discredit any witnesses who have spoken against the Accused No. 1 or for that matter against any accused” — and prays that all 59 accused be chargesheeted on the basis of already available evidence and that further investigations be ordered.
SIT’s closure report, which comes four years after it began investigations as ordered by the Supreme Court into the incidents following the inferno in the Sabarmati Express near Godhra train station on the morning of February 27, 2002, (in which 59 kar sevaks and others died), has left far too many questions unasked, and provided answers that are highly questionable.
Mobile phone call records establish that on receiving the news of the Godhra tragedy, the first person Mr Modi, then Gujarat chief minister and home minister (Accused No. 1 in Mrs. Jafri’s complaint and Protest Petition), got in touch with was the state’s VHP general secretary, Jaideep Patel (Accused No. 21), even before he spoke with anyone from his home department or police officials. The petition sees this communication as a link in the conspiracy chain, but SIT ignores it.
By evening Mr Modi, health minister Ashok Bhatt (Accused No. 2, now deceased), and minister of state for home, Gordhan Zadaphia (Accused No. 5), reached Godhra. VHP’s Mr Patel too was there. In Godhra, post-mortems of the dead bodies were conducted in the railway yard by a team of doctors not trained for the job, even as Sangh Parivar activists screamed retaliatory murder. Gory photographs were permitted to be taken and later widely circulated (via VHP’s pamphlets, Gujarati newspapers) to inflame passions across the state. The post-mortems were conducted in the presence of ministers, Godhra’s district magistrate and police superintendent. Under whose directions and what was the motive behind such illegal, indecent haste? The SIT closure report does not ask these questions.
Despite the then Godhra district collector Mrs Jayanti Ravi’s deposition before SIT confirming Mr Jaideep Patel’s unusual presence at a mini-Cabinet meeting in Godhra, its closure report insists that Mr Modi never met the rabble-rousing VHP leader in Godhra.
Next, a top-level decision was taken to transport the dead bodies by road to Ahmedabad in the custody of VHP leaders, Jaideep Patel and Hasmukh Patel. SIT admits that this was in violation of existing regulations, particularly Rule 223 (10-b) of Gujarat Police Manual, but the blame for this is placed on a relatively junior revenue officer in Godhra district collector’s office (Mamlatdar), M.L. Nalvaya, ignoring his deposition before SIT that he did so only under instructions from his seniors.
Earlier, at different times — late afternoon and evening — of the Godhra tragedy, mobile phone records show the location of several top officers from the chief minister’s office (CMO) in Meghaninagar. What were these officers doing in Meghaninagar, far away from the CMO in Gandhinagar, in an area where the very next day Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were mercilessly killed in Gulberg Society? The question is left unasked by SIT.
SIT buys the claim of Ahmedabad police commissioner, P.C. Pande (Accused No. 29), that the funeral procession of the dead bodies to Ahmedabad was peaceful. But police control room (PCR) records show repeated frantic messages from the police posted at Sola Civil Hospital from 3 am in the morning of February 28 onwards about violent mobs endangering the lives of hospital staff, blocking traffic, and attacking a high court
judge who happens to be a Muslim.
Around the same time, murderous mobs led by VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal leaders begin their day-long massacre of Muslims in Gulberg Society and Naroda Patia, Naroda Gaon and elsewhere, claiming nearly 300 lives in Ahmedabad in a single day. Of the 40 persons killed in police firing that day, 36 were Muslims. PCR records also show that on February 28, while Muslim property was set flame across Ahmedabad, the Fire Brigade Department in the city seemed to be on mass leave. Repeated calls by policemen on the ground went answered by Fire Brigade stations.
From the afternoon of February 27 itself, there was a flurry of urgent “alerts” by ground-level state intelligence bureau (SIB) personnel, warning that mobs are assembling in different places in Ahmedabad and other cities. “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action,” reads one such SIB alert.
No such preventive action was taken till noon on February 28 when curfew was finally declared. By that time, however, the carnage was at its height in Gulberg Society, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patia.
IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has deposed before SIT that he was present at the meeting called by Mr Modi late evening of February 27, where the chief minister told the assembled IAS-IPS top brass that “Hindus must be allowed to vent their anger”. Amicus curiae Ramachandran has held this to be sufficient prima facie evidence for the prosecution of Mr Modi, adding that it’s for the court to determine the veracity of Mr Bhatt’s claim.
But, perhaps, India’s top investigating agencies are simply incapable of probing into incidents of heinous mass crimes. Or do their failures suggest something more sinister?

The writer is founder trustee, Citizens for Justice and Peace, whose team of lawyers assisted Mrs Zakia Jafri in filing her protest petition

 

Why is Narendra Mod i- Accused No 1


Why Modi is accused no-1?

DNA Correspondent, April 16,2013

MODI1

Zakia Jafri’s petition claims Modi administration had supported and ignored communal violence in 2002. The state police and administration did not pay heed to intelligence bureau record about hate speeches by right wing activists and mobilisation of mob. DNA brings excerpts of the protest petition.

l Modi contacts the then VHP leader Dr Jaideep Patel immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials

l Sinister decision was taken in ‘mini-cabinet’ meeting at Godhra where Patel was present

l Administration and police were deliberately paralyzed and neutralized by conspiracy hatched by Modi and the then DGP K Chakravarti, the then police commissioner PC Pande, additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narayan and other important officials

l Victory of Modi in Rajkot by-election a week before Godhra riots with a very slender margin

l Ehsan Jafri had been active campaigner against Modi.

l Meeting at Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002 night effectively neutralized the police and administration.

l Alert messages of State Intelligence Bureau (SIT) of provocation and build up of mobs as well as showing possibilities of violence were ignored.

l The SIT deliberately conceals and ignored during the probe regarding documents of SIB regarding hate speeches issued by RSS and VHP workers.

 

PRESS RELEASE- Gujarat- Mrs Zakia Jafri files her Protest Petition


 Press release

Mrs Zakia Jafri files her Protest Petition

A cold-blooded and clear-cut conspiracy to manipulate the tragic Godhra incident — from the moment of the terrible news  – was planned and executed by Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi (Accused no 1), in close consultation, especially with then Health Minister Mr Ashok Bhatt (accused no. 2) , Urban development minister, IK Jadeja (accused no 3) and other co-accused cabinet colleagues and especially VHP leader Mr Jaydeep Patel (accused no 21), with whom the CM was first in touch with soon after the tragic Godhra incident. This was aimed at ensuring that the tragedy at Godhra becomes ready fuel for the meticulously planned massacre of innocent Muslims all over Gujarat.

Mrs Zakia Ahsan Jafri today filed her Protest Petition praying for the rejection in toto of the SIT final report dated 8.2.2012, making a cogent case for the charge-sheeting of all 59 accused listed in her complaint dated 8.6.2006, beginning with Mr. Modi the chief minister of Gujarat.

The protest petition that runs into 514 pages also has three volumes of annexures and ten CDs. The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) with its entire legal team has assisted in this painstaking and voluminous exercise.

The Petitioner strongly argues that the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had adequate documents and statements to come to a prima facie finding against all the accused. SIT, however decided to cover up the crimes and has gone out of its way to misguide the Court and give a clean chit to the accused.

Phone call records show Mr Modi (accused no 1, A-1) to have been in close touch with Mr Jaideep Patel (A-21) immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials and ministers. Thereafter, there is a hasty and publicly conducted post-mortem at Godhra, out in the public against all law and procedure while a crowd of VHP workers was present. Mr Modi is present while this happens.

Thereafter, while passions are being cynically stoked, another sinister decision to hand over the dead bodies of Godhra victims to VHP strongman Mr Jaideep Patel (A-21) is taken at a mini-cabinet meeting presided by Mr Modi in Godhra, at which co-accused ministers are physically present. Mr Jaideep Patel too is present at the meeting. Then Godhra district magistrate, Mrs Jayanti Ravi has clearly stated that Mr Jaideep Patel was present at the meeting.

The Protest Petition goes into great detail, relying on documents from the investigation papers, on how the administration and police were deliberately paralysed and neutralised by the conspiracy hatched by Mr Modi, Co-accused, then Gujarat DGP Mr K Chakravari (A-25), then police commissioner, Ahmedabad, PC Pande (A-29), then additional chief secretary, home, Mr Ashok Narayan (A-28) and other key members of the bureaucracy and police who connived as co conspirators in the conspiracy.

Key field reports from the SIB (state intelligence bureau) from all districts were given to the SIT by January 2010, i.e., full three and a half months before the SIT submitted its first investigation report to the Supreme Court on 12.5.2010. These reports reveal a grim ground level reality: gross provocations and bloodthirsty slogans by VHP workers from 4 p.m. onwards on the afternoon of 27.2.2002 (“Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge”, blood for blood) while Mr Modi had still not left for Godhra.

Phone records of the chief minister’s office (CMO) reveal that he went to the airport to catch a helicopter for Godhra via Meghaninagar where the massacre at Gulberg society the next day was organized. Phone records of the CMO also show that after landing in Ahmedabad from Vadodara by aircraft (where he had travelled by road from Godhra on his return journey) too, Mr Modi and officials of the CMO who accompanied him are located at Meghaninagar late evening (mobile phone call records).

Just a week before the Godhra incident, on  22.2.2002, Mr Modi had won in the Rajkot bye-election by a slender margin (a few thousand votes). The glory of his victory had been dimmed with minority votes going heavily against him. Former CPI leader and later Parliamentarian from the Congress, Ahsan Jafri had been an active campaigner against Mr Modi in the bye-election lived in Gulberg Society, in Meghaninagar.

In a sinister furtherance of the conspiracy, the late night meeting at Mr Modi’s residence effectively neutralised the police and administration from doing its constitutional duty. The Protest Petition states that the credibility of the evidence related to the critical 27.2.2002 meeting must be tested during trial and that it was not the job of the investigating agency to pre-judge the issue, acting like a court overstepping its jurisdiction to protect and save powerful accused.

Evidence from Police Control Room (PCR) records submitted by Mr. PC Pande to the SIT after 15.3.2011 reveal cynical and cold-blooded mobilization of RSS workers and VHP men at the Sola Civil hospital from 4 a.m. onwards on 28.2.2002 in aggressive anticipation for the arrival of the dead bodies. Repeated PCR messages, that the home department under Mr. Modi (A-1, who held the home portfolio) and Mr PC Pande (A-21) were trying to conceal, show that both in Ahmedabad and in several locations all over Gujarat crowds were mobilized to aggressively parade bodies with bloodthirsty sloganeering, inciting mobs to attack innocent Muslims.

The then joint police commissioner, Ahmedabad, Mr Shivanand Jha, also an accused in the complaint (A-38), was jurisdictionally in charge of Sola Civil Hospital in Zone 1. As the messages extracted below show, repeated PCR messages desperately ask for bandobast; they speak of the staff and doctors of the hospital being under threat; of a 5,000-6,000 strong mob accompanying the bodies and finally one message also says that “riots have broken out.”

Yet Mr Modi, the entire Home department and the accused under him and individuals accused including Mr Chakravarti (A-25) and Mr PC Pande (A-29) in collaboration with the SIT have strived hard to conceal this evidence. While such aggressive funeral processions were allowed in Ahmedabad, an equally explosive situation prevailed simultaneously in Khedbrahma, Vadodara, Modasa, Dahod, Anand etc. A cynical government under Mr Modi and his co-accused conspirators has done their level best to conceal this evidence.

The PCR records — that the SIT was trying hard to conceal — also reveal that while the Ahmedabad police under Mr PC Pande and the home department  under Mr Modi and then MOS, home Mr Gordhan Zadaphiya (A-5 ) had enough forces to escort a VHP leader known for his inciteful slogans, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, from the airport to the Sola Civil hospital to accompany the processionists, shouting filthy hate speeches and murderous slogans. But they did not have enough forces to send to Naroda Patiya where 96 persons were massacred in broad daylight (charge-sheet figures in the Naroda Patiya case, though more deaths have been recorded) and 69 persons at Gulberg society the same day and around the same time aggressive processions were being allowed. Mr Modi allowing and openly supporting the bandh and neutralising his administration, decided to give the RSS, VHP, BD mobs a free run of the Gujarat streets to massacre innocents.

As bad or worse were the provocations and hate speeches that were cynically allowed and encouraged by Mr. Modi and his administration. PCR messages of Ahmedabad and SIB messages from all over the state are testimony to this incendiary mobilisation.

Warnings Ignored (from SIB and PCR messages)

12:30 pm on the 27th February: An SIB officer through fax no 525 communicated to the headquarters that there were reports that some dead bodies would be brought to Kalupur Hospital station in Ahmedabad city. “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action.”

Another SIB message numbered as Out/184/02 again warned about communal incidents if bodies were brought to Ahmedabad. “Communal violence will occur in the city. So take preventive action.”  The same message said that karsevaks had given explosive interviews to a TV station at Godhra and had threatened to unleash violence against the Muslims.

At 1:51 hours and again at 1:59 hours on the 28th February there were panic messages by wireless police vans positioned at Sola Hospital demanding immediate protection from Special Reserve Police platoons and the presence of DCP Zone 1.

Message at 2:44 hours on 28.2.2002: the motor cavalcade has reached Sola Civil Hospital.

Page No. 5790 of Annexure IV, File XIV reveals that at 04:00 am a mob comprising of 3,000 swayamsevaks, that is the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had already gathered at the Civil Sola Hospital.

At 7.14 a.m. the PCR van again informs the Police Control Room that a large mob had assembled at the hospital. (Page 5796 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents).

Again, another message three minutes later at 7:17 a.m. (Page 5797 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents) says that a mob of 500 people was holding up the traffic.

Ten bodies were taken to Ramol, an area near Naroda and a massive funeral rally of over 5,000-6,000 mourners took the bodies to Hatkeshwar crematorium in the afternoon.

At 11:55 am a PCR message is sent out saying that the Hindu mob had become violent and had set a vehicle on fire and was indulging in arson on the highway.

Message at 11.55 a.m. on 28.2.2002 (Page No. 6162 Annexure IV File XV) saying that “Sayyed Saheb, the Protocol Officer had informed Sola-1 that riots have started at Sola civil hospital at the High Court where the dead bodies were brought.”

Again, there is another message with no indication of time (Page No..6172 of 28.2.2002) that states that the officers and employees of the hospital had been surrounded by a 500 strong mob and they could not come out”. The message also made a demand for more security for the civil hospital at Sola.

Annexure IV File XIV- Message No. 5907 and 5925 at 11:58 a.m. on 28.2.2002 shows that when 10 dead bodies were taken from Ramol Jantanagar to the Hatkeshwar cremation ground, a crowd of 5,000-6,000 persons accompanied this procession.

On the morning of 28.2.2002, a SIB message (on page 258 of Annexure III File XIX, message No. Com/538/28/2/02) says that a funeral procession was allowed to take place at Khedbrahma, a town in Sabarkantha district. The message adds that soon after the funeral procession 2 Muslims on their way to Khedbrahma were stabbed and the situation had become very tense.

The subsequent message at page No. 262 of the same file (Annexure III File XIX) mentions that 150 Bajrang Dal workers were on their way from Ayodhya to Khedbrahma.

Another message at page 254 (Annexure III file XIX) – Com/574/2002 sent out at 15.32 p.m. on 28.2.2002 states that one more victim of the tragic train burning at Godhra, Babubhai Harjibhai Patel, resident at Vaghrol, Tal. Vadali in Sabarkantha was brought back and a funeral procession was organised in the town.

Warnings about the deliberate mobilization

At page 365 of Annexure III File XXI( D-166) message No. 73/02 dated 28.2.2002 sent by the ACP(Intelligence) Surat Region to State Intelligence Bureau Headquarters at Gandhinagar, says that between 9-10 a.m. on the morning of 28.2.2002, a meeting was held at Sardar Chowk in Vapi Town where Dinesh Kumar Behri of VHP and Acharya  Brahmbatt of Bajrang Dal , Jawahar Desai of BJP and Vinod Chowdhary of RSS made inflammatory speeches regarding the incident at Godhra and called upon the Hindus to unite.

Another message at page 188 in Annexure III, File XVIII sent at 20:38 hours on the day of the Godhra train burning tragedy, i.e., 27.2.2002, mentions the following: “Dilip Trivedi, the General Secretary of VHP and Joint Secretary Dr. Jaideep Patel and Kaushik Mehta in a Joint Statement issued by them have declared that innocent Ram Bhatt’s have been attacked and hence Gujarat Bandh has been declared. They have also stated that the attack on the Ramsevaks returning from Ayodhya was pre-planned by the Muslims. Innocent ladies were molested and compartments were set on fire and Ramsevaks were burnt alive.”

The joint statement issued by the three senior-most office bearers of Gujarat VHP’s unit was clearly designed to stoke communal passion. A reasonable response would have been an immediate government clampdown on such public utterances and if required putting all these trouble makers under preventive detention.  But no such action was taken. The VHP called for a bandh on the 28th February and the BJP, the ruling party, openly supported the bandh call. The State, instead of clamping down on the bandh call, gave the VHP leaders and its cadres a free reign and a license to kill. 

At page 345, the message titled Vardhi No. 24 contained in Annexure III File XIX dated 27.2.2002 sent from D.O., Ahmedabad to the Intelligence Office at Virangam (Virangam is in Ahmedabad rural district) stated that 50 to 75 members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal had gathered at Virangam town chali and in the Golwada area and the situation was very tense.

Another message in the same file, i.e., Annexure III, File XVIII (D-160) at Page No. 19 Message No. 531 ifrom SIB Police to KR Singh at 1810 hours on 27.2.2002 said that, “on 27.2.2002 at 4.30 p.m. when the train arrived at the Ahmedabad Railway station, the kar sevaks were armed with ‘dandas’ and shouting murderous slogans ‘khoon ka badla khoon’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.” 

Fax Mes. D-1/  HA/ Jaher Sabha/ Junagadh/ 311/02 dated.27.2.02 at10.12 pm sent by PI, CID, Int. Bhavnagar to IG, Guj. State IB, Gandhi Nagar said that Sadhu Samaj president Gopalnandji gave an agitated speech at Junagadh Kadva chowk, on dt.27.2.02 between19.30 to 21.00 hrs. The message then goes on to name specific local VHP leaders and says that they expressed their condolences to Kar Sevaks and then delivered hate speeches and urged all Hindus to unite and told the audience to chop the hands and legs of our enemies. They said in their speech that the incident that occurred at Godhra in the morning at 7.30a.m., yet there was no reaction from the Hindus which was very unfortunate. “Muslims who live in India with sincerity and patriotism, we don’t have any agitation against them. But we have objections against those who lived in India and favour Pakistan and carried out activities against the country. Anti- national activities are being done in Madrasas. We have objection against it. We do not have any kind of objection against spiritual religious education to the children. Pooja prathna at the temple and pray in the Masjid but Pakistan Zindabad is not right. Above mention ideas were expressed by them.”

Fax Mes. Com/HM/550/ 02 Dt.27.2.02 23:59 Out No.398 from ACP, Int. G’nagar Region to IG, Guj. State IB, Gandhi Nagar says that 50 Karsevaks travelling by a special bus from Ahmedabad reached Modasa centre in village Vadagam at Taluka Dhansura at around 18:30 pm on 27.2.02. “They were received by a mob of 500 people and these kar sevaks addressed the mob and told the people how the compartment of Sabarmati Express was attacked. People present in the mob got excited and at 21:30 p.m. people from around the village gathered and the mob swelled to a huge size. To maintain law and order the force was not sufficient and about 10 paan bidi shops were set on fire. Vehicles like Jeep, Maruti and Ambassador were set on fire. Vehicles and shops seem to belong to Muslims. One Yasinbhai Multani’s shop at Kalol center TaKadi, Bavlu PS village Kalyanpur was burnt down by the mob”.

Throughout February 28, 2002 while fires were set all over Ahmedabad city, PCR records show that repeated calls from different areas to the Fire Brigade drew went answered.

Table of Phone Records 

Call Type Cell-No (Name) Duration Secs Date-Time Dialed / Received No – Name
Outgoing 9825037439

A P Patel

(Accused No 1, Mr Modi)

77 27.2.2002

09:39:38

 

9825023887

Mr Jaideep Patel VHP General Secretary

(Accused No 21)

Outgoing 9825037439

A P Patel

(Accused No 1, Mr Modi)

20 27.2.2002

09:41:39

9825023887

Mr Jaideep Patel VHP General Secretary

(Accused No 21)

The Protest Petition prays for the charge sheeting of all the accused, a transfer of the further investigation to an independent agency and an admitting of the Petition.

(Trustees, Citizens for Justice and Peace)

I.M. Kadri                   Taizoon Khorakiwala               Nandan Maluste

Cyrus Guzder             Arvind Krishnaswamy             Javed Akhtar

Alyque Padamsee       Anil Dharker                          Ghulam Peshimam

Rahul Bose                 Javed Anand                            Teesta Setalvad

Cedric Prakash

Map Sola Route2 Maps For Printout SIB Messages Aggresive mobi Sola Civil Hos 1 Guj Map Attack and funeral procession

 

‘I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter’ #JusticeKatju


Editor’s Note: Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge in the Supreme Court, is not really off the mark on Narendra Modi, especially on his role in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. We reproduce an interview with former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, VN Khare who makes equally scathing observations. This interview was carried in print edition of Hardnews, March 2012.

Sadiq Naqvi Delhi 

More and more issues are going to the courts. Is it a failure of the other institutions of our system? 

No, it will be wrong to say that. With economic progress and development, all these things are bound to come. It is human nature and there will be disputes. It is part of the system. You can’t visualize a society without the judiciary. You can’t imagine a democracy minus the judiciary. You can as well go to China then. Once I was in Beijing and I happened to meet the Chief Justice of China. I asked him, “What do you do if your prime minister or other top officials don’t follow your order?” He said nothing. He asked me, instead, so what would you do? I told him that I can send them to jail for six months if they don’t follow the court verdict. He was surprised. So, if you have a democracy, you have to have a judiciary.

Do you see any flaws in the current judicial set-up? 

You can’t say that any institution is flawless. There is a difference between the judges and the judiciary. Some judges may be proper, some may be corrupt. Judges come from the same society from where you come. He must be having someone in the family who is a politician or a bureaucrat. We don’t import judges. So the aberrations we are seeing are a reflection of the society. It’s not a failure of the institution. If you compare the judiciary with other institutions, then I can very proudly say that it is much better. People still have confidence and faith in the judiciary. They have not started saying that going to the court is going to be useless. So, till the time people have this confidence, I feel we need not worry much. The only thing we should be worried about is this: whatever corruption has seeped into the judiciary, as a reflection of the degeneration of the society, the judiciary as an institution should try to rectify it.

          ‘I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter. I said it in the open court’

 

What are your observations on recent judgements on PILs, like the one on 2G? 

I have entertained so many PILs during my tenure. I started doing it after the Gujarat riots in 2002. A State-sponsored genocide was on, and nobody had the courage to speak against it. The prime minister was quiet, the deputy prime minister did not utter a word, the president also did not say a thing even after so many people had been killed. All the accused were being let off. It was then that I took it up. There were 400 cases and I read the FIR. I am amazed that even after carrying out such a big investigation, they did not find anything. I just read the FIR and concluded that it was a State-sponsored genocide.

I will tell you two cases. Best Bakery was set on fire at 6:45pm. There was a thousand-strong mob which had surrounded Best Bakery and set it on fire. Understand the topography and you can easily conclude that it is a State-sponsored genocide. At a furlong a police patrol van is stationed, it is also mentioned in the FIR. One-and-a-half-kilometre away is the police station. An ACP is sitting there, according to the FIR. Then it goes on to say that at 11:45pm the fire recedes on its own. These are the broad facts. Now, tell me, a fire brigade could have gone and doused the fire? Some lives could have been saved. Why didn’t that patrol police van go and intervene? I read the FIR and concluded that it is a State-sponsored genocide. I said, had I been in a position, I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter. I said it in the open court. So, in such circumstances, what inquiry do you need – when even one fire extinguisher couldn’t come, nobody could even throw a bucket of water!

Now, see the Gulbarga society case. Ehsan Jafri calls the police and an ACP comes. Jafri is not the only one there; there are many more people in his house. The ACP tells Jafri, I can take you from here. He refused and said, how can I go alone when there are so many others? He said, I will go only if you take the others. The ACP just refused. The moment this ACP leaves, Jafri’s house is set on fire. Why didn’t any fire extinguisher come to this society which is in the heart of Ahmedabad? Scores of people were charred to death.

So, at this stage, I took the PILs. If democracy has to function, then it is the duty of the majority to protect the minority. Who constitutes the government? It is the majority. And when they failed in this duty, that is when I took up theGujaratcase. So, when you see the system has failed, then you have to take up such causes.

Some recent judgements have faced a lot of criticism. Top legal luminaries have termed as ‘hyper-activism’ the way in which the judiciary is intervening in policy-making. What do you think? 

I, too, believe that in a couple of cases they went too far. They should not push their ideology in deciding cases. They should not colour the judgements with their ideology. It is going too far. It may sometimes rebound. But in their wisdom they have done it.

What about the 2G case, the way licences have been cancelled? 

In the 2G case, you can’t say that all the private firms bribed their way in. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the trust of investors, that their investments are safe. But when you engage in misappropriation, then it reflects on other clean deals as well. This has very bad implications on investments coming into the country. Firms from Norway and other countries have started to show their apprehensions already.

How does one maintain checks and balances? 

Everyone has to work on his own turf. There should be no intrusion. Only in cases where there is inaction, if the executive is not enforcing law, or not fulfilling its duty, then the judiciary can step in and direct it to enforce the law.

The way they have done in the black money case, by laying down a policy… 

Black money and all, you can’t lay down a policy. You can direct them to change the policy. But even that is going too far, stretching it too far. Judiciary is not supposed to run the government. They could have checked whether the government is acting upon it, they could have asked them to submit progress reports to the court. But what manner it is to be done, the policy matters, are to be decided by the government.

Again, in the 2G case, the court said only auction should be done… 

It is all right, when there is so much corruption, then auction seems to be the only viable option. In the auction system, it is to be seen whether it (auction) is for everything, and then, how will the poor cope up with it in front of the moneybags…

Don’t you think that instead of directing for an auction, in this case where a national resource is involved, the court could have left the decision to the government? 

Yes, I too feel it should have been a little flexible. Suppose you want to part with government resources to develop weaker sections of the people, the minorities etc, there you can’t impose this system, this won’t work. Suppose you have to give houses to the poor, you can’t auction them.

In the 2G case, one of the defences was that this has made mobile telephony cheaper for the masses… 

There, you see, the corruption is so apparent. Some hundreds of crores have been transferred in the accounts. Had all this not happened, then I think the court would have been lenient. The court, perhaps, took all that into consideration. And it is not final, it can be reviewed sometime later.

You think it should be reviewed? 

I wouldn’t say it should be. A case can be reviewed on the basis of the circumstances prevailing in that particular period of time.

There is a larger belief that the powerful get away easily even in the judicial system. However, we saw in recent cases that many powerful people were kept in pre-trial detention for a long period. Do you agree that the courts got influenced by public pressure?

(Laughs) You must never say that. I think they act on the content of law rather than public pressure. I never got swayed by public pressure. You have to give justice based on the law.

Do you think they should have got bail? 

Yes, because, normally, in economic offences people get bail. But, as I told you, the reflection of society can be seen on the courts as well. There was a wave against corruption, this scam, that scam, and then, as you said, the feeling that the powerful get away easily. Sometimes the powerful don’t get bail, like in this case. All these contradictions are there. These are all opinions of society. The best way is to act according to the law.

Do you feel that many of the judgements are politically coloured? 

I wouldn’t call it political. They are perhaps coloured by public opinion.

What about the Ayodhya judgement? 

(Laughs) The original suit was a civil suit and they partitioned it. Partition suit is different. Where did the question of partition arise? But, then, as I said, they must have, perhaps, acted as per public opinion and gave something to all the aggrieved parties. Legally, it is not correct.

Then there is this whole debate on frivolous PILs… 

Yes, it is very rampant. During my tenure, I even constituted a committee to scrutinize and look into the merits of a PIL, and whether it is fit for consideration. We made some norms. The committee of judges was to decide if the PIL has merits for the benefit of society, for people of the country. Otherwise, it was rejected.

There are allegations that some lawyers act at the behest of corporates… We have seen allegations against people like Subramanian Swamy that they are targeting one political party. Does any such thing exist? 

It may be. Because even I used to get a lot of complaints that there are certain lawyers who are sponsored by corporate houses. Some corporate house gets a licence, and then the other party takes recourse to PIL. And the lawyers make a lot of money. I got many such complaints. But I did not have the power to investigate lawyers on any such complaint. I could have investigated the judges, but I could not investigate the lawyers.

How does one deal with this menace? 

Actually, it is because the Bar Council is weak. The disciplinary authority in this case is the Bar Council, and it doesn’t do anything. What does a judge know if the lawyer has taken money? And then, even the media highlights (some cases).

What about the 2G case, the way licences have been cancelled? 

In the 2G case, you can’t say that all the private firms bribed their way in. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the trust of investors, that their investments are safe. But when you engage in misappropriation, then it reflects on other clean deals as well. This has very bad implications on investments coming into the country. Firms from Norway and other countries have started to show their apprehensions already.

How does one maintain checks and balances? 

Everyone has to work on his own turf. There should be no intrusion. Only in cases where there is inaction, if the executive is not enforcing law, or not fulfilling its duty, then the judiciary can step in and direct it to enforce the law.

The way they have done in the black money case, by laying down a policy… 

Black money and all, you can’t lay down a policy. You can direct them to change the policy. But even that is going too far, stretching it too far. Judiciary is not supposed to run the government. They could have checked whether the government is acting upon it, they could have asked them to submit progress reports to the court. But what manner it is to be done, the policy matters, are to be decided by the government.

Again, in the 2G case, the court said only auction should be done… 

It is all right, when there is so much corruption, then auction seems to be the only viable option. In the auction system, it is to be seen whether it (auction) is for everything, and then, how will the poor cope up with it in front of the moneybags…

Don’t you think that instead of directing for an auction, in this case where a national resource is involved, the court could have left the decision to the government? 

Yes, I too feel it should have been a little flexible. Suppose you want to part with government resources to develop weaker sections of the people, the minorities etc, there you can’t impose this system, this won’t work. Suppose you have to give houses to the poor, you can’t auction them.

In the 2G case, one of the defences was that this has made mobile telephony cheaper for the masses… 

There, you see, the corruption is so apparent. Some hundreds of crores have been transferred in the accounts. Had all this not happened, then I think the court would have been lenient. The court, perhaps, took all that into consideration. And it is not final, it can be reviewed sometime later.

You think it should be reviewed? 

I wouldn’t say it should be. A case can be reviewed on the basis of the circumstances prevailing in that particular period of time.

There is a larger belief that the powerful get away easily even in the judicial system. However, we saw in recent cases that many powerful people were kept in pre-trial detention for a long period. Do you agree that the courts got influenced by public pressure?

(Laughs) You must never say that. I think they act on the content of law rather than public pressure. I never got swayed by public pressure. You have to give justice based on the law.

Do you think they should have got bail? 

Yes, because, normally, in economic offences people get bail. But, as I told you, the reflection of society can be seen on the courts as well. There was a wave against corruption, this scam, that scam, and then, as you said, the feeling that the powerful get away easily. Sometimes the powerful don’t get bail, like in this case. All these contradictions are there. These are all opinions of society. The best way is to act according to the law.

Do you feel that many of the judgements are politically coloured? 

I wouldn’t call it political. They are perhaps coloured by public opinion.

What about the Ayodhya judgement? 

(Laughs) The original suit was a civil suit and they partitioned it. Partition suit is different. Where did the question of partition arise? But, then, as I said, they must have, perhaps, acted as per public opinion and gave something to all the aggrieved parties. Legally, it is not correct.

Then there is this whole debate on frivolous PILs… 

Yes, it is very rampant. During my tenure, I even constituted a committee to scrutinize and look into the merits of a PIL, and whether it is fit for consideration. We made some norms. The committee of judges was to decide if the PIL has merits for the benefit of society, for people of the country. Otherwise, it was rejected.

There are allegations that some lawyers act at the behest of corporates… We have seen allegations against people like Subramanian Swamy that they are targeting one political party. Does any such thing exist? 

It may be. Because even I used to get a lot of complaints that there are certain lawyers who are sponsored by corporate houses. Some corporate house gets a licence, and then the other party takes recourse to PIL. And the lawyers make a lot of money. I got many such complaints. But I did not have the power to investigate lawyers on any such complaint. I could have investigated the judges, but I could not investigate the lawyers.

How does one deal with this menace? 

Actually, it is because the Bar Council is weak. The disciplinary authority in this case is the Bar Council, and it doesn’t do anything. What does a judge know if the lawyer has taken money? And then, even the media highlights (some cases).

What about the long list of pending cases? Even in the riots cases, the victims still await justice. Be it the 1984 riots, the 1992 riots in Mumbai, or even theGujaratgenocide of 2002… 

This is a blot on the judiciary. But what can the judiciary do? In our country, the ratio is 13.5 judges for one million people. In the developed countries, we have 130-135 judges for every one million people. A judge has to go into the facts, the evidence, the law, before deciding a case. I even put this question to the then president, APJ Abdul Kalam. I asked him, “People say that there has been so much modernization and computerization, but can the computer decide a case on the merits of it?” No! Each fact in each case differs from the others. So, if in our country the ratio is increased to even 40 judges per million people, then things can improve a lot.

We have no infrastructure. You go to a court, you have all kinds of people roaming freely. From booksellers to the ones selling tea. Some lawyer is sitting under a tree, some others in a tea shop. You have dogs and stray cows roaming freely. Have you ever gone to the Tees Hazari Court (in Delhi) and seen how hundreds of people pile up in the court room?

I did talk to many former prime ministers, including Mrs Indira Gandhi, in this regard. But they don’t have the finances to do it. Every year there are as many as 30 lakh cases of bouncing cheques. Every year 10 lakh people die in road accidents. Each accident makes two cases. One civil and one criminal. Then, you have dacoity, murder and rape cases. And you know the kind of police we have in this country.

What are your views on the reported corruption in sections of the lower judiciary, the high courts and the Supreme Court? We have seen affidavits filed in court which accused even some former Chief Justices ofIndiaof corruption. 

There is corruption. But judges come from the same society which is corrupt. It is not institutionalized. Some judges may be engaging in corrupt practices. But it is very less in high courts, and I did not see any corruption in the Supreme Court. At least till the time I was there, I did not see any case. What happened after that, I do not know. They may be giving judgements according to their ideological beliefs, some judge may be pro-tenant, some may be pro-labour, but I don’t think they are involved in any monetary corruption. After I retired, there were all these cases of corruption on Justice YK Sabharwal, Justice RC Lahoti.

Coming to the subordinate courts, it is the Chief Justice of the state’s high court who has been delegated with powers to deal with corruption. If you see states like UP, it is so big, how much work can one Chief Justice do? The moment you enter a subordinate court, you have the clerk asking for money. I have information that even some judges are corrupt. To deal with it, the institution has to come up with some mechanism. A Chief Justice can’t deal with so much work.

We have judges who suffer from all kinds of weaknesses. You give them any power and they start feeling as if they are king. And it is the subordinate courts where a common man goes. How many people are able to come to the Supreme Court or high court? A mechanism to deal with corruption in the lower judiciary is very important.

Judicial Accountability Bill also doesn’t address it… 

There is no provision for the lower judiciary since it is a state subject. If you bring it under this, then the states will say it is an attack on the federal structure.

Coming back to the Supreme Court, there are allegations on former Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan? Do you think he should have resigned? 

I have not seen the facts, so I can’t say much. If there is any substance in the allegations, then he should have resigned.

Now we see that even petitions are loaded with the opinions of former judges. Don’t you feel that judges, once they retire, should not give such opinions? 

What will the judge do then, once he retires? The retirement age is 65. What does he do after that? He can’t practise. How can you stop him from giving opinions? It is for the courts to tell the petitioner to not get such opinions. Yes, a judge should not take up any government assignment post-retirement.

Any concluding remarks… 

There is need for a code of conduct for judges. There should be an element of restraint. They should exhibit honesty, impartiality and fairness, and should strive for the promotion of the weaker sections of society.

The way the situation is currently unfolding inPakistan, with the Supreme Court indicting the democratically elected prime minister – will it have any repercussions here?

No, I don’t think so. The courts here debarred Indira Gandhi from contesting elections. It is not bigger than that.

From the print issue of Hardnews :

MARCH 2012

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- SC Issues Notice to Gujarat Government (Zakia Jafri v/s Narendra Modi)


 

January 17, 2013

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Gujarat government and stayed Magistrate Ganatra’s order dated 27.11.2013 closing Zakia Jafri’s right to file a Protest Petition. Smt Zakia Jafri had, on 8.6.2006 filed a complaint alleging a sinister and wide level conspiracy to allow violence, deliberately subvert the strict directions to maintain order that led to the loss of over 2,500 minority lives. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, cabinet colleagues, senior IPS and IAS officers are among the 61 accused in this complaint. The Supreme Court had ordered investigation into the allegations on 27.4.2009 in the special leave petition filed by Smt Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. (SLP 1088/2008) Finally on 12.9.2011 the Supreme Court had directed that the matter be placed for consideration before a Magistrate under Section 173(2) and all documents related to the investigation be provided to the complainant.

 

We are praying for the right to get access to all investigations reports under Section 173(8) of the CRPC. Ever since the matter came up before the Magistrate in Ahmedabad, the SIT has been resisting making any documents available. An earlier Magistrate Bhatt (later transferred) granted Smt Jafri documents by an order dated 10.4.2012. Even after that, the SIT has been doggedly trying to conceal those further investigation reports that were submitted before the Supreme Court by Shri Malhotra and Shri Raghavan between May 2010 and July 2011 as they take a very different view from the Final Closure Report submitted by Himanshu Shukla on 8.2.2012. In his two reports to the Supreme Court, Amicus Curiae Shri Raju Ramachandran had come to the conclusion that there was sufficient material to prosecute chief minister Narendra Modi and at least two senior policemen.

The next date for Zakia Jafri’s special leave petition is 7th February 2013. The CJP is assisting her legally in the case. This Special Leave Petition filed by Smt Jafri assisted by Citizens for Justice and Peace was specifically filed to get clarity on the Order of the Supreme Court that the SIT came misinterpreting before the Magistrate (SLP 8989/2012). This first came up for hearing on December 3, 2012. On December 10 last year the SC had asked Chairman SIT RK Raghavan to answer how previous statements of accused collected during investigation had not been made available to the complainant. Thereafter on December 15, 2012 about 1500 pages of documents were made available.

Now the pending issue in the matter remains the further investigation reports filed by SIT. The Supreme Court has also asked Amicus Curiae Shri Raju Ramachandran to assist the court in the matter.

Senior advocates Kamini Jaiswal and Sanjay Parikh appeared for Smt Jafri and CJP assisted by Ms. Aparna Bhat and Mr. Ramesh Pukhrambam. Advocate Mihir Desai has also been appearing in this matter.

Teesta Setalvad
Secretary and Trustee

 

#Guajarat- The violence that stalks even 10 years on #Narendramodi


Dec 16, 2012

Rupa Dara Mody witness and victim showing her flat  in Gulberg society in Ahmedabad city of Gujarat state in India. Rupa Dara Mody lost her son Ajar who was 13 years old at the time of th 2002 riots.

 

AHMEDABAD // Rupa Dara Mody moved to get away from the violence. In 1996, she and her family left Shahpur – an area then known for frequent inter-religious confrontations – for an affluent, mostly Muslim neighbourhood called the Gulberg Society in the state of Gujarat. The violence eventually followed.

 

Mrs Mody’s 13-year-old son Ajar and 68 other people were killed in a Hindu rampage against Muslims on February 28, 2002.

The night before a mob of Muslims had set a train on fire, killing almost 60 Hindu pilgrims returning from the holy city of Ayodhya.

The Hindus sought revenge, igniting rioting that would continue for four months and leave nearly 1,000 people dead.

Ten years later legal proceedings against some of those alleged to be responsible continue. More than 100 people, both Hindu and Muslim, have been convicted in four separate cases. But none of the convictions have been for the Gulberg Society deaths.

In April, investigators appointed by India’s supreme court acquitted Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, 62, of any responsibility for the rioting, saying there was no evidence against him. He is now running for a fourth term in this month’s election, which is being held on a variety of staggered dates. The final results will be released December 20.

The acquittal and memories of 2002 haunt Mrs Mody. “The pelting of stones started, then came burning tyres and bulbs filled with acid,” she recalled earlier this week of that February night a decade ago.

“Modi says in the 10 years he has ruled there has been no riots, no curfews. He started one and on the back of it he has ruled with the fear in people’s hearts,” she added.

Mr Modi has refused to apologise for the riots, telling the Wall Street Journal in August, that “only has to ask forgiveness if one is guilty of a crime.” The issue of violence in this race has been mostly overshadowed by economic issues.

Mrs Mody and her two children, Ajar and 11-year-old Benifer, had sought refuge in the house of a neighbour, Ehsan Jafri, a former member of parliament that winter night in 2002.

Others followed, believing that Mr Jafri’s powerful friends would shield them from the violence. Most of the women gathered upstairs. The men watched helplessly from downstairs as the mobs blasted the walls of the gated community by turning cylinders of cooking gas into impromptu bombs.

Then they started setting fire to homes.

Mrs Mody recalled stepping on bodies of people who had collapsed from the smoke and then falling. “I wasn’t unconscious but my daughter stood there asking me to get up,” she said. “I got up and covered her eyes to keep her from seeing what was happening around us. I turned around to see if my son was following my daughter. He wasn’t. “We looked in the relief camps, hospitals, morgues, everywhere we put up posters. In the hospitals, I went to the burn units and I would tell them, just blink or extend a hand if you are my Aju [her nickname for her son],” said Mrs Mody. “No one answered.”

His body was never found.

Before Mr Jafri was dragged from his home and killed by the mob, Mrs Mody said she watched him call the police and numerous politicians from his landline to ask for help. She claims that one of those calls was to Mr Modi. She has also testified in court.

While Mr Modi has not been shown to have been directly involved in instigating the violence, members of his government have.

 

Gulberg riots: Zakia Jafri’s plea referred to larger bench


NEW DELHI A Supreme Court benchonMondayreferredtoa larger bench the plea of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri’s widow seeking documents on probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Gulberg Housing Society riot case in Ahmedabad in 2002.
A two-judge bench of JusticeDKJainandJusticeMadan B Lokur said it cannot go into theissueasSITprobeandrelated issues concerning the Godhra and other riot cases of 2002 in Gujarat was dealt by a three-member special bench which on September 12, 2011 had passed the order relating to supply of documents to Jafri’s widow, Zakia Jafri.
“Weareoftheviewthatthe said order was passed by another bench and so it would be appropriate that the matter be heard by the same bench. Let the matter be placed before that larger bench as expeditiously as possible,“ it said.
The bench said it would not be proper for it to pass the order and propriety also demands that the matter be referred to the larger bench which had passed the order.
The apex court on September 12, 2011 had directed the SIT to forward its final report regarding the Gulberg Society riots to the local court.
The SIT headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan had probed the riot cases including the Ahmedabad Gulberg Housing Society massacre case in which Jafri, a former Congress MP, was killed.
An Ahmedabad trial court had on November 27 accepted the SIT closure report filed on March 13, 2012 in the case.
Zakia Jafri has filed the SLP challenging the trial court’s order rejecting her plea for some documents relating to the investigation in the case.
Jafri was seeking the documents to file a protest petition against the SIT’s closure report in the probe into the Gulburg Society riots in which 69 people were killed by a mob on February 28, 2002. PTI

Jafri (centre) has filed SLP challenging a trial court’s order rejecting her plea for documents relating to the probe in the case

 

Zakia Jafri loses right to file protest petition against SIT report


Ahmedabad,Nov 27, DNA

A local court on Tuesday ruled that Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Zafri was killed in Gujarat riots, has lost the right to file protest petition against the SIT report, giving a clean chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, due to lapse of time.

Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people killed burnt alive by a mob during the riots at Gulburg Housing Society here on February 28, 2002.

Metropolitan Magistrate BJ Ganatra ruled that Jafri cannot file the protest petition as she failed to file it despite being given sufficient time.

The court ruled that Jafri can now only make oral submission regarding her protest against the SIT report.

The court order comes at a time when the state is in midst of assembly poll campaigning and Modi is seeking a fourth term as chief minister of Gujarat.

The SIT had submitted its final report in the court regarding Gulburg Society riot case giving a clean chit to Modi and others in 2002 riot cases in February.

The SIT had provided a copy of the report to Zakia in May asking her to file a protest petition within the stipulated time of two months. However, the protest petition has not yet been filed by Jafri.

Jafri’s lawyer S M Vohra told the court that they have approached the Supreme Court seeking a clarification on certain issues and the next date of hearing of the case in the apex court is December 3.

Vohra sought time from the court till the hearing in the case is over in the Supreme Court.

Vohra later told PTI that generally local courts await the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court. However, this court has chosen not to wait for the same and given an order which is “very shocking.”

“We will convey this to the Supreme Court before December 3,” Vohra said.