The Supreme Court Friday said disgruntled officers of the Gujarat government need to be in the dock and proceeded in accordance with the law for creating a sensation by making false revelations on the 2002 riots.
The top court also said it finds force in the State’s argument that the testimony of Sanjiv Bhatt (then IPS officer), Haren Pandya (former Gujarat home minister), and RB Sreekumar (now retired IPS officer) was only to sensationalize and politicize the matters in issue, “although, replete with falsehood.”
Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003, near Law Garden in Ahmedabad during a morning walk.
The apex court said Bhatt and Pandya falsely claimed themselves to be eye-witnesses of the meeting in which utterances were allegedly made by the then Chief Minister and the Special Investigation Team has negated their claim.
At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create a sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.
The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation, a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said.
The apex court said the present proceedings (by Zakia Jafri) have been pursued for the last 16 years including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted, to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design.
As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded in accordance with the law, the bench also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar said.
For, persons not privy to the stated meeting, where utterances were allegedly made by the then Chief Minister, falsely claimed themselves to be eye-witnesses, and after a thorough investigation by the SIT, it has become clear that their claim of being present in the meeting was itself false to their knowledge, the bench said.
It said the false claim alleging structure of larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level stands collapsed like a house of cards, the aftermath of a thorough investigation by the SIT.
We have not had to add that it is only because of the ultra-sensational revelation projected by Sanjiv Bhatt and Haren Pandya, who unabashedly claimed to be privy to the utterances made by the then Chief Minister in an official meeting, the constitutional functionaries and this Court was required to move into action taking serious note of the same.
But, after a thorough investigation by the SIT, the falsity of such claim has been fully exposed on the basis of credible indisputable materials collated by the SIT during the investigation in that regard, the bench said.
The apex court said besides exposing the falsity of the claims of these two persons, the SIT has collated materials that show the hard work and planning of the concerned State functionaries to control the spontaneous evolving situation of mass violence across Gujarat.
It said the state functionaries despite the handicap of the administration including the inadequate State police force called central forces without loss of time and repeated appeals were made by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi publicly to maintain peace.
The top court said inaction or failure of some officials of one section of the State administration cannot be the basis to infer a pre-planned criminal conspiracy by the authorities of the State Government or to term it as a State-sponsored crime (violence) against the minority community.
The bench upheld the SIT’s clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the 2002 riots in the state and dismissed a plea by slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia who had alleged a larger conspiracy.
Bringing the curtains down on the bid to reopen the probe, the apex said the material collected during the investigation does not give rise to strong or grave suspicion regarding the hatching of a larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level for causing mass violence against Muslims.
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