Saturday, 11 May 2013

Special Investigation Team

SC accepts NHRC plea
By Our Legal Correspondent
NEW DELHI July 8. The Supreme Court today accepted the plea of the National Human Rights Commission and transferred to itself two petitions pending in the Gujarat and Madras High Courts pertaining to the `Godhra riots' and the arrest of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and DMK president, M. Karunanidhi.
A three-judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice, B.N. Kirpal, K.G. Balakrishnan and Arijit Pasayat agreed with the Solicitor-General, Harish Salve, that there was a substantive question of law involved in it and that the matters be transferred to the apex court and ordered the transfer.
The Bench called for the records from the respective courts and directed the Registry to fix the matter for further hearing after the receipt of the records.
In July last, the NHRC had taken suo motu cognisance of the manner of arrest of Mr. Karunanidhi and called for a report from the Tamil Nadu Government. The State Government, however, took the matter to the High Court questioning the NHRC's intervention when the State had set up a Commission of Inquiry and the matter was pending in the High Court.
The NHRC initiated suo motu proceedings against the Gujarat Government following large-scale violence in wake of the Godhra train carnage and sought a report regarding steps taken to prevent further violence.
After the Gujarat Government appointed a Commission of Inquiry, a petition was filed in the High Court questioning the NHRC's jurisdiction.
The NHRC filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court stating that under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, it was empowered to inquire, suo motu or on a petition, into complaints of violation of human rights or abetment thereof, or negligence in the prevention of such violation.
It said that it was inquiring into incidents of alleged violation of human rights in various States and the questions raised in the petitions before the Madras and Gujarat High Courts were bound to arise and they should be settled by the Supreme Court.

Centre ready for CBI probe into Gujarat riots
Author: Indo-Asian News Service 
Date: 19/02/2008
Source: Statesman 



Centre ready for CBI probe into Gujarat riots
Indo-Asian News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb. 18: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it was willing to have crucial cases of communal carnage in Gujarat in 2002 probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and have them tried outside the state. "The Central government submits it would have no objection to the investigation of the cases by the CBI and transfer outside the state of Gujarat, if so desired by this court," the home ministry told the SC in an affidavit filed last week.
The affidavit was filed days before the hearing slated Tuesday of a bunch of petitions, including those by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and several other public interest lawsuits, seeking a CBI probe into various cases of state-wide communal violence in the wake of a train carnage in Godhra in February 2002. Besides seeking a CBI probe into various cases, the petitions have sought transfer of the trials of some of the cases outside the state. In state-wide violence following the train carnage, at least 1,000 people had died, majority of them from the Muslim community, as the Narendra Modi government was widely criticised for alleged biased handling of the situation.
The cases for which the lawsuits by the NHRC and others have sought a CBI probe included those that took place in Godhra, Ahmedabad's Gulbarga Society, Naroda Patiya, Vadodara's Best Bakery, Baranpura, Machipith, Tarsali, Raghovpura and Pandarwada.
The home ministry in its affidavit quoted the NHRC's finding which said: "There is no doubt in the opinion of this Commission that there was a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of the rights to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the people of the state. "The NHRC has urged that "the critical cases be entrusted to the CBI and that the central government ensure that this is done," reads the affidavit. The home ministry also quoted the NHRC as saying that "in its view, the trials of the cases mentioned in the petition are not likely to take place in a free and fair atmosphere within Gujarat." Expressing its willingness for the transfer of the trial of some cases, the ministry in its affidavit also quoted Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat's April 2004 ruling in the Best Bakery case, in which 14 people had been burnt alive. Mr Justice Pasayat had pointed out several shortcomings on the part of the Gujarat government in conducting the trial of various cases there. Quoting Mr Justice Pasayat's ruling, the ministry said the SC itself had "identified serious deficiencies in the manner the case had been investigated and also the manner in which the proceedings in that case had been conducted in the trial court and in the high court".

“Shift riot cases outside Gujarat” ·   

February 19, 2008
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a fresh probe into the Godhra carnage and post-Godhra riots and transfer all cases outside Gujarat to ensure a fair trial.
After the Godhra train carnage on February 27, 2002, Gujarat witnessed large-scale communal violence in which hundreds of people were killed. Acting on petitions from the National Human Rights Commission and other human rights activists, the apex court in November 2003 stayed trial in the cases. The matter comes up for further hearing on Tuesday.
The petitioners sought re-investigation by the CBI and transfer of trial in all major cases — Godhra, Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya, Baranpura, Machipith, Tarsali, Pandarwada and Raghovpura — outside Gujarat, expressing a fear of miscarriage of justice if the cases were held in the State.
In its affidavit on Monday, the Centre said, “The main allegations are: in many of the cases, police officials themselves are the perpetrators of the crimes; in most cases the victims have complained of police complicity and inaction; in a number of cases the police have refused to register FIRs or registered faulty FIRs; and generally the conduct of the police has been such as not to inspire confidence.”

I have not been able to understand the reasons for discrepancies in the suggested SIT in the following reports -

(1) The Court hereby directs the constitution of a SIT comprised of the
following persons:
1. Mr.Raghavan, Formal Director of the CBI;
2. Mr.C.B.Satpathy;
3.Rajnish Kumar Rai (1992, IPS);
4.Dr.Neerja Gotru Rao (1993, IPS);
5.A.K.Singh (1985, IPS);
All the officers named above have not been connected in any way with the cases

relating to the riots.

Notify SIT in ten days: court

March 27,2008  

J. Venkatesan
Gujarat has no objection to further probe; a fair approach, says Bench
Religious fanatics worse than terrorists: Bench
In these cases there is an element of communal disharmony

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Gujarat government to set up a special investigation team (SIT) for a further probe into 14 Godhra and post-Godhra communal riots cases in 2002.
The investigation will also cover the case of torching of the Sabarmati express train on February 27, 2002.
“We feel that considering the sensitive nature of the cases involved, appointment of a SIT is warranted,” said a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam. It directed the Gujarat government to notify the constitution of the SIT in 10 days.
The Bench said: “Communal harmony is the hallmark of democracy. No religion teaches hatred. If in the name of religion, people are liquidated it is essentially a slur and blot on society governed by the Constitution of India which in its Preamble refers to secularism.”
After hearing amicus curiae Harish Salve and senior counsel for Gujarat Mukul Rohatgi, it said: “Religious fanatics really do not belong to any religion. They are worse than terrorists. These are cases where there is an element of communal disharmony which is not to be countenanced.” The object of the criminal justice system was that a person who was found guilty of an offence should be punished.
Raghavan SIT chief
The former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan would be the Chairman of the five-member SIT. The other members are a retired police officer of Uttar Pradesh C. V. Satpathy and three senior IPS officers from Gujarat, Geeta Johri (convener), Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia.
The SIT would further investigate the incidents that occurred in Godhra, Sardarpura, Gulberg Society, Ode, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya, Deepla Darwaza and the one involving British nationals. The Bench asked the SIT to complete the probe and submit its report to the court in three months.
The Bench said counsel for Gujarat had suggested that the State had no objection to further investigation so that people’s faith in its transparent action would be strengthened. Counsel had said the State was not shielding any guilty persons and it wanted them punished.
The Bench said, “This seems to be a fair approach on the part of the State.”
The SIT would be free to work out modalities and norms for purposes of enquiry or investigation. “If any person wants to be examined by the SIT or wants to give his/her version of the alleged incidents, the SIT shall record the reasons.”
The SIT need not confine itself to complaints and it could conduct any enquiry necessary for the investigation. The Bench directed that the matter be listed for the last week of August for further directions.
The court had stayed the trial in these cases on petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, which sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and transfer of the cases outside Gujarat.

In pursuit of justice

The Supreme Court may have baulked at transferring the most important Gujarat riot cases out of the State but its order on the establishment of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe these incidents will provide some succour to victims of the 2002 massacres. It was precisely because of the Gujarat administration’s wilful obstruction of justice that the Supreme Court earlier ordered the reopening of hundreds of riot cases that had ended in tame acquittals. In the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano rape cases, the apex court went further and placed the Central Bureau of Investigation in charge of the investigations. The trials in these two cases were held in Maharashtra and ended in convictions. In 2003, the court stayed proceedings in several high-profile massacre cases, pending final disposal of the National Human Rights Commission’s plea for these trials also to be moved out of Gujarat. This week’s order meets the NHRC half-way: the trials will now be held in Gujarat but the SIT will be empowered to conduct further investigations and file supplementary charge-sheets if it finds the Gujarat police’s original investigations to be incomplete or infirm. The cases relate to some of the worst crimes committed against hundreds of innocent Muslims in Gujarat under the watch of the Narendra Modi government: Naroda-Patiya, the Gulberg Society, Odh, Sardarpura, and Naroda Gaon. Also included is the Godhra train fire of February 27, which took the lives of 59 innocent passengers.
While the order is a step in the right direction, continuous monitoring of these cases by the Supreme Court is needed to ensure final delivery of justice. An independent investigation is a necessary but insufficient condition for ensuring that the guilty are punished. The prosecutor is an equally important part of the process. In several Gujarat riot cases, the public prosecutors did not seem particularly interested in winning convictions. Some of these prosecutors are directly affiliated to the RSS or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, while others do not wish to inconvenience or embarrass the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In the Odh massacre case, where the perpetrators buried their victims’ bodies at different locations, the public prosecutor has actually opposed the plea by the victims’ families for the bodies to be exhumed. If the SIT is to make headway in all these cases, it will require the court’s strong backing in dealing with other branches of the justice delivery system. In the Godhra case, where more than 100 people have been languishing in jail for five years on terrorism charges which the POTA Review Committee found to be unwarranted, the SIT’s mandate must include impartially assessing the nature of the evidence against the accused and taking a call on whether the official charge-sheet, with its multiple contradictions, is sound.


Second shot at Gujarat justice: SC for special team to probe key riot cases
The post-Godhra riot cases in Gujarat were back in the spotlight when the Supreme Court suggested today that a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) be constituted to investigate afresh the ten worst cases.
A formal order constituting the team is expected to be issued tomorrow by the court when it takes up other issues related to the 2002 communal riots.
Three IPS officers from Gujarat — Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia — and two retired IPS officers from outside the state — former CBI chief R K Raghavan and former UP cadre officer C V Satpathy — are likely to make the five-member team.
Cases related to the killings at Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gaon, Sardarpur and Ode are expected to be among the ten that will be the focus of the SIT.
The move to form an SIT came after the Gujarat government took a completely different stand on the plea by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to hand over investigation of these cases to an independent agency. The NHRC felt a fair and transparent trial was not possible in Gujarat.
The bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam declared its intention of forming an SIT after hearing the arguments of amicus curiae Harish Salve and senior counsel for Gujarat, Mukul Rohtagi, on the NHRC petition.
Rohtagi agreed to the suggestion for an independent agency to ensure that investigation and subsequent trials are not subverted.
Not willing to accept Gujarat's submission of including only officers from the state, the bench suggested the names of Raghavan and Satpathy for the SIT.
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From Shiv Visvanathan's essay on SIT
SIT – Dramatis Personae: An SIT can be read as a script for a play. The choice of actors is critical. In this case the selection of members eventually demanded a split between three insiders and three outsiders. The outsiders were unproblematic but the choice of insiders was distressing. The SIT should be like Caesar’s wife but the eventual choice of members made it appear like Caesar’s harem. Consider the personalities of the three members. First Ashis Bhatia, a career officer. Despite being additional commissioner of police of Surat city, he failed to file an affidavit before the Nanavati Commission. Instead of being punished he gets appointed to succeed D.G. Vanjara, currently in jail for his infamous encounters. Yet, while Bhatia could be tolerable, the next person is an absolute specimen.

In Shivanand Jha, the perpetrator’s accomplice masquerades as an investigator. If Modi wishes to make assurance double sure, the choice is immaculate. Jha is suspected of being hand-in-glove with the regime. He was additional CP-Ahmedabad city (Sec 1) where 500 people died on account of police inaction. As home secretary, he handled the reinvestigation of Narodia Patia and the transfer of the Best Bakery case. Appointments like Jha’s add to the cynicism. How is a man seen as accomplice to murder to guarantee justice? The third member is Geeta Johri. She is facing a spate of enquiries and her husband, a forest officer, is facing departmental proceedings on corruption. This makes her vulnerable to pressure by the regime. The point is not that we are short of good officers. There are, among others, Rageesh Kumar Rai, Neerja Gotru Rao and A.K. Singh, all outstanding officers with unimpeachable integrity. One wonders why they were not considered.


Double bonus for SIT: Gets a pat from apex court, more probe time
Express News Service
Posted: Aug 27, 2008 at 0138 hrs IST

New Delhi, August 26 The panel has been given time till December 31 to submit its reportCommending the work done so far by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed to re-investigate the post-Godhra riots, the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the panel time till December 31 to submit its report.
The praise came from the bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat as the five-member SIT placed its preliminary report in a sealed cover.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who placed the confidential report before the bench, also comprising P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam, sought some more time for the Team to complete its investigations.
“They are doing a good job. Let us give them some more time,”
observed the three-judge bench while acceding to their plea of
Earlier, senior counsel K T S Tulsi, appearing for some of the accused, submitted before the bench that after the court's orders, no court is prepared to hear the bail applications of any of the accused. To this, the bench said, “We have not said anything regarding this.”
Apart from the three-member panel of IPS officers of Gujarat — Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia — the team comprises two retired IPS officers from outside the state — former IPS officer of UP cadre C V Satpathy and ex-CBI chief R K Raghavan, who heads the SIT.
The cases under the scanner of the SIT include incidents of gruesome killings of people belonging to the minority communities in places like Godhra, Gulmerg Society, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patya, Sardarpura and Deepla Darwaza among others.
In 2003, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had filed a petition seeking transfer of the case and trial outside
Gujarat. It had expressed apprehension that it would not be conducted in a fair and transparent manner because of the hostile environment encountered by the witnesses, most of whom had turned hostile due to apparent threats and inducements.

The apex court constituted the SIT on March 25 this year while dealing with the NHRC petitions.

Will SIT probe its own member?

Shivanand Jha, who is in the team probing post-Godhra riots, is an accused in Jafri’s FIR


Ahmedabad: Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court to probe 2002 riots could find itself in a spot. Going by the SC’s order of Monday to probe all 63 persons including the Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the Gulbarg Society massacre case, one of the SIT’s members is an accused! 
    The FIR filed by wife of slain ex-MP Ahsan Jafri, Zakia, before the SC, mentions IPS officer Shivanand Jha as one of the accused, charged of “providing false information on the offence”. 
    Jha happens to be one of the key members of the SIT headed by former CBI director RK 
Raghavan, constituted on March 26 last year. 
    Jha heads the team in the Godhra carnage case where 59 lives were killed and the Ode massacre of Anand district where some NRIs are involved. At least 33 persons died in this massacre. The two other Gujarat officers in SIT are, Geetha Johri, who heads the probe in the Sardarpura, Dipda Darwaja and Prantij case of killing of British nationals, and Ashish Bhatia, who heads the Naroda Patia, Naroda Gam and Gulbarg Society massacres. Jha was recently promoted as additional director general of police. 
    However, the SIT has probed the Gulbarg massacre case for almost a year and nabbed some 31 accused that were not arrested earlier by the Gujarat police. The local police had arrested 46 persons in this case, but most of them are out on bail.In fact, the issue for SIT is how to go 
ahead on recent directions particularly after six chargesheets including one by SIT, have been filed in this case in last seven years. 
    Retired DGP PC Pande, who is also named as one of the prime accused in the case has reportedly been given a clean chit by SIT, going by contents of its report to the SC, which was leaked to the press recently. When the Gulbarg massacre took place on February 28, 2002, killing 68 persons, Jha was holding charge as additional commissioner of police sector 1, while this massacre took place in sector 2. 
    When contacted, Raghavan told TOI, “I haven’t got a copy of the order, it will take at least 3-4 days, till then I cannot comment”. 
    JM Suthar, the investigating officer in the Gulbarg case told TOI, “When we are asked to probe the case from a particular angle, we will do it.”

Zakia Jafri

Cellphone records of SIT man details his whereabouts during post-Godhra riots

Cellphone records accessed by Newsline detail Special Investigation Team (SIT) member Shivanand Jha's movements on February 28, 2002: the day riots broke out post Godhra train carnage. Jha was then the additional commissioner of Ahmedabad police (Sector 1) and used the cellphone number '9825048308'.

Jha's mobile phone records have detailed his location when the riots broke out in areas under his jurisdiction. He has been accused of dereliction of duty and giving false evidence in a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. The Supreme Court has ordered investigation into the role of Narendra Modi and 62 others, including Jha, following this petition by Zakia.

The issue assumes significance as Jha heads the SIT teams that are investigating the Godhra train carnage case of February 27, 2002 and the post-Godhra massacre at Ode in Anand district.

City-based group Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) had submitted a detailed analysis of Jha's mobile phone records before the Nanavati Commission. Areas under his jurisdiction had started witnessing riots since the evening of February 27, 2002 and became "uncontrollable" by afternoon the next day. Jha chose to remain in the confines of his office in Shahibaug till 10.49 am on February 28, 2002, as per his phone details.

Jha had received 13 calls and made two outgoing calls from his mobile phone between 00:17:27 hrs and 10:49:46 hrs sitting in his office. His mobile phone tower during this period was the Shahibaug Kedar Tower C 105 near Rajasthan Hospital.

Ellisbridge, Navrangpura and Satellite areas, which were under Jha's jurisdiction, had started witnessing riots since 7.30 pm on February 27, 2002. Records further say that Madhavpura, Shahibaug, Satellite and Sola areas came under riot's grip since 7 am on February 28. SIT chief R K Raghvan refused to comment on the issue.

Riots timeline
Where: Sector 1
When: Between the evening of February 27, 2002 and afternoon of February 28, when Jha was reportedly in his office
February 27, 2002
5.45 pm: Satellite police station (case number 99/02). An AMTS bus set on fire in front of Maruti complex
7.35 pm: Ellisbride police station (case number 113/02). A car and a motorcycle set ablaze near Farina Flats
8.15 pm: Ellisbridge police station (case number 116/02). A Muslim man attacked with swords
8.15 pm: Ellisbridge police station (case number 116/02). A Muslim man attacked with swords
8.30 pm: Ellisbridge police station (case number 114/02). A Muslim man severely injured near Mahalaxmi Crossroads
8.15 pm: Ellisbridge police station (case number 116/02). A Muslim man attacked with swords
11.50 pm: Navrangpura police station (case number 130/02). A Muslim auto driver attacked with swords
10.30 pm: Satellite police station (case number 101/02). Burning down of a shop owned by a Muslim, Sona Handlooms
February 28, 2002
7 am onwards: Madhavpura police station (case number 73/02). Hazrat Shah Pir Ni Dargah razed Madhavpura police station (case number 86/02): Several shops near Pathan Ni Chali set afire 
8 am onwards: Shahibaug police station (case number 76/02). Mob of 1,000 set fire to Moti Manor Hotel, part of Rosery School and a dargah 
10.45 am: Shahibaug police station (case number 74/02). A Muslim man and a three-year-old boy stabbed to death in Jalaluddin Baba Ni Dargah premises


Geeta Johri's career graph: From Latif to Sohrabuddin

TNN Jan 21, 2010, 05.32am IST
AHMEDABAD: Geetha Johri, who is Gujarat's first woman IPS officer, is quite a been-there-done-that cop.
From the time she defied her superiors in September 1992 as deputy commissioner of police in Ahmedabad to nab underworld don Abdul Latif's man Sharif Khan, to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter probe and her role in the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gujarat riots, Johri's career graph has been a turbulent wave — crashing with the same speed it went up.
In fact, there are several similarities in the manner in which her Latif raid was "checked" by her then bosses heading the Latif squad and her blaming her superiors for interfering in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter probe, especially her move to arrest deputy superintendent of police NK Amin, who is now going to be a key pivot in the case poised to go to the CBI.
The meticulous inquiry she conducted as a 'sidelined' officer in the CID (crime) in 2006, following a petition filed by Sohrabuddin's brother Rubabuddin in the SC, confirmed not only the missing Kauserbi but also that the encounter was fake. The formal investigation, however, was handed over to deputy inspector general of police Rajnish Rai, who created a flutter in this sleepy investigation agency by arresting IPS officers DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN on the basis of Johri's evidence, taking his bosses by surprise.
The government found him too hot to handle and acted promptly on Rubabuddin's plea before the SC to have Johri return to the probe. Rai quit the probe but not before handing over the CDs containing the telephone records of the three accused to his superiors. Johri had a major showdown with her superiors over recording Amin's statement and was then asked to report directly to the apex court.
However, the chargesheet that she filed before the sessions court in the case was severely criticised. The SC ordered that the case go to CBI only after finding faults in Johri's handling of the case.

Geeta Johri Was Known To Be A Fearless Officer. So, What Accounts For Her Flip-Flops?

September 11, 2010, Issue 36 Volume 7

IN AN ideal world and in ideal circumstances, Geeta Johri, Gujarat’s first woman IPS officer could have been a role model for women who aspired to be a part of the Services. An officer who did not think twice before barging into the den of Gujarat’s most feared don Latif Khan, leading a handful of police constables and arresting his henchman Sharif Khan. After she became a household name in Gujarat, tales of bravado and grit did the rounds. For, not many officers travel in an autorickshaw and place the barrel of a gun on the forehead of a gangster. But neither is there an ideal world nor did luck favour this 1982 batch Gujarat cadre officer.
Geeta Johri, 52, has again caught the bull by the horns by blaming the CBI for pressurising her into naming politicians like Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. In a police career spanning 28 years, taking her to almost every prominent district of Gujarat in pivotal positions, controversy is not new for her. Earlier this year, she was forced to quit the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the Gujarat riots amid allegations of being allotted land by the state government at throwaway rates.
Geeta Johri was to be the CBI’s trump card in the investigations into the Sohrabuddin case, for she was part of the SIT formed to look into the encounters in 2007. But she complained of political pressure hindering her investigation. Why is the officer who was to be the most crucial witness in the Sohrabuddin case changing course? An internal CID report detailing her flip-flops said that the point that needed to be probed was why a departmental inquiry into serious charges of corruption against her husband, an officer of the Indian Forest Service, was diluted in October 2008. It hinted that she did this to save his skin.
Anil Johri is a north Indian serving in Gujarat, against whom a case of violation of the Official Secrets Act was filed in 2000. The case was being investigated by the CBI, coincidentally by Rajnish Rai, the officer with whom she would be crossing paths again in the Sohrabuddin investigation. A departmental inquiry was started against Anil in June 2005 under then Chief Secretary PK Das, but he went on leave after that. He rejoined the investigation in 2007.
In a similar way, Geeta Johri had built a case against top cops DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN in the Sohrabuddin case. Sensing trouble, Geeta was removed by the political masters and Rajnish Rai was brought in. But he, much against their expectation, arrested the trio.
Again, Geeta was reinstated into the investigation but her interim report submitted in September 2008 claimed that the third person travelling with Sohrabuddin was Kalimuddin, not Tulsi Prajapati, a report for which she was chastised by the Supreme Court. At this juncture, in July 2009, the Chief Secretary of Gujarat who was supervising her husband’s case, gave a clean chit to all the forest officials involved. Many fellow officers claim that Geeta, awarded the Police Medal for meritorious service in 1998, could not be corrupted with money, but power was a weakness. She was rewarded with the position of the Commissioner of Rajkot Police and also nominated for the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 2009, when she had not even figured in the list put up by the DGP. Now, suggests a senior Supreme Court lawyer, “Her affidavit in the SC reads very similar to the arguments made by Ram Jethmalani in the SC, especially his remarks on Justice Tarun Chatterjee.”
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January 20, 2010

SC tells Guj riots probe team to come clean

Rakesh Bhatnagar. NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court (SC) has asked the special investigation team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat riot cases to file its response to the allegations that it has withheld some vital evidence regarding the involvement of ruling politicians and top ranking bureaucracy.
A bench of justices DK. Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam on Tuesday asked SIT chief RK Raghavan to submit his written response within two weeks. The court will hear a petition filed on this issue by NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) on March 15.
Solicitor general Gopal Subramanium also referred to the Ahmedabad trial court's order on September 7 last year, seeking evidence from the SIT. The trial court had sought the record of phone calls of senior police officers and politicians during the riots that followed the Godhra train burning incident, Subramanium added.

The magistrate had also passed an order on CJP's petition before the SC seeking reconstitution of SIT on the grounds that many police officers, including Geeta Johri, were from Gujarat Police and were suspected of not conducting the probe properly.
The court turned down the demand for removal of senior counsel Harish Salve as amicus curae in the cases relating to post-Godhra riots.

Counsel Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for rights activists, told the court that they had no faith in Salve as he had earlier appeared for Gujarat government in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

Upset with SIT attitude, Gulbarg prosecutors quit

TNN Mar 3, 2010, 03.47am IST
AHMEDABAD: The special public prosecutors appointed by Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Gulbarg Society massacre case, RK Shah and his assistant Naina Bhatt have resigned from the case ostensibly after being "frustrated" with SIT's behaviour and dissatisfaction over court proceedings.
The Gulbarg case has witnessed many ups and downs since the trial began in the last couple of months, the last being the witnesses seeking removal of the special judge BU Joshi. The special prosecutors have refused to comment, citing the matter as "sub-judice".
Sources say the lawyers tendered their resignation to SIT earlier and submitted a copy to the state legal department on Tuesday. The resignation letter is said to be a lengthy one and in two parts, each one complaining against the conduct of SIT as well as the special court.
Meanwhile, Shah sought the court's permission to adjourn hearing till SIT finds a new prosecutor. The designated judge, however, passed a lengthy order requesting him not to give up the case, as the proceedings in this sensitive trial are nearing completion. The judge has asked both lawyers to be present in court on March 8.

New public prosecutors for Gulbarg trial

TNN Jun 23, 2010, 03.11am IST
AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT), looking into the 2002 Gulbarg society massacre, has appointed new public prosecutors for the trial due to resume on Wednesday after a two-month gap.
R C Kodekar would represent the SIT before a special court conducting the trial against 64 accused. N K Dahiya would assist Kodekar.
The appointments were made under controversial circumstances after earlier special PPs, R K Shah and Naina Bhatt, resigned in March, citing lack of cooperation from SIT officials. They were also upset with the attitude of the judge conducting the trial.
Sixty nine, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in the massacre on February 28, 2002.

2002 Gujarat riots: SIT member meets victims to assess security

A member of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) met witnesses of Dipdadarwaja and Sardarpura riot cases of 2002 to assess their security arrangements, SIT officials said on Wednesday.
"We met the witnesses of the Sardarpura and Dipdadarwaja riots of Mehsana district who are now living in Satnagar village near Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district. The purpose of visit was to meet witnesses of the two riot cases and see the progress of the trial in those cases," SIT member Paramvir Singh said, adding that he also met the special public prosecutor for the two cases.
Singh also visited the scene of offence in Sardarpura village in Vijapur taluka and Dipdadarwaja area of Visnagar town in Mehsana district.
Communal riots broke out in different parts of the state following the Godhra train burning incident. In one such incident in Sardarpura, 33 people were killed by a mob in March 2002. While in another incident in Dipdadarwaja, 11 members of the minority community, including five children, were hacked to death and burnt in their houses during the post-Godhra riots.
Singh said that witnesses of both the cases were satisfied with the security arrangements made by the SIT.
"The witnesses raised some issues during the interaction. These are being looked into," Singh said, but declined to divulge further details.
According to police sources accompanying Singh, the witnesses had complained about the sanitation and other facilities which were lacking in Satnagar.
Mentioning that SIT's Witness Protection Cell (WPC) for riot cases was functioning well, Singh said: "We have not received any major complaints of harassment yet. But whatever complaints we have got are being looked into."
The six-member SIT, headed by former CBI chief R K Raghavan, is probing nine cases, including the Godhra train burning case. It is also inquiring into a complaint by a riot victim accusing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others for allegedly abetting the 2002 riots.
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Gujarat riots probe in crisis as resignations pile up

TNN Mar 14, 2010, 03.12am IST
AHMEDABAD: Crisis seems to be brewing in the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan.
One of its members, deputy inspector general (retd) of police Paramvir Singh, who was former additional director in CBI, is learnt to have resigned from the investigation team citing personal reasons.
A member told TOI on conditions of anonymity: ''Singh was away home for several days to attend to his ailing 93-year old mother.''
Singh had joined the SIT late in place of retired IPS officer CB Satpathy who had quit. At a time when the inquiry into slain ex-MP Ahsan Jafri's widow, Zakia's complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others, directed by the SC, is at a crucial stage, Raghavan is facing a flood of resignation letters. On Thursday, the SIT issued summons to question Modi on March 21, in this case.
Recently, the special public prosecutor in the Gulbarg trial RK Shah and his assistant Nayana Bhatt also submitted
their resignations saying they were not getting enough co-operation.
Before this, Geetha Johri, another SIT member had expressed desire to quit SIT because of the ''personal allegations'' levelled against her in the SC.
The Zakia case is to be heard on Monday in the SC. Raghavan is said to have submitted his report on the probe.
Neither Singh nor Raghavan was available for comment on the issue.


Probing questions


The Supreme Court directive to the Special Investigation Team adds a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat riots cases.

R.K. RAGHAVAN, chief of the SIT. He has said that the response to the Supreme Court will be filed before the March 15 hearing.
On February 10, the Supreme Court directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the 2002 communal riots cases in Gujarat to respond to allegations that it had withheld vital evidence regarding the involvement of senior politicians and top bureaucrats in the riots. The SIT has to file its response before the next hearing in the case, scheduled for March 15.
The development highlights once again the tortuous course of the probe into one of the worst communal carnages in independent India. In fact, the intervention of the Supreme Court led to the setting up of the SIT under R.K. Raghavan, a former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
But even that happened in March 2008, nearly six years after the bloodbath in the State. This was followed by the May 2009 order stipulating trials under the supervision of the SIT. Barely a year later, a new chapter has been added to the investigations.
The February 10 directive of the Supreme Court has come in the wake of petitions filed by a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social activists such as Devendra Bhai Pathak and Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace. They expressed serious concern about the manner in which the trials were proceeding and alleged serious lapses in the progress of the SIT investigation itself. The petitioners alleged that the SIT refused to look into key aspects of further investigation, especially those dealing with mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. The petitions stated that police witnesses, working directly with the SIT, had turned hostile, much to the shock of the trial court, and that the SIT did not ensure adequate safety for the witnesses. The petitions also pointed out that several people, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had not been questioned by the SIT.
Affidavits, which run into 3,000 pages and include those of several riot victims, filed along with the applications of the NGOs and separately, give crucial and detailed information on the handling of the communally charged situation after the Godhra train burning incident. They relate essentially to nine cases being probed by the SIT and cover a variety of facts such as the phone records of policemen and the key perpetrators, locations of officers and statements of witnesses.
The documents emphasise the tacit involvement of top police officers in the carnage and the fact that most of them hold prominent positions in the Gujarat government now. The petitions and the affidavits also assert that the build-up of arsenal, men and arms for the post-Godhra riots has not been investigated sufficiently.
The build-up, according to the petitioners, was exposed in Tehelka’s Operation Kalank and the affidavits of police officers R.B. Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma. The petitions also alleged that the SIT failed to investigate thoroughly the documentary evidence, including phone call records, mobile van records, control room registers, station diary entries and fire brigade registers. A scrutiny of these would have indicated the extent of “pre-planning” that went into the post-Godhra violence, the petitions stated.
Highlighting SIT’s lapse
They pointed to the failure to take adequate steps to prevent threats to witnesses and also highlighted the SIT’s lapse in not seeking the cancellation of bail of influential accused persons, who remain free during the trials.
Thematically, the affidavits relate to eight cases concerning incidents and personalities. According to Devendra Bhai Pathak, in the cases relating to the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam incidents, in which more than 110 persons were brutally murdered and many women and girls were raped, the SIT has not recorded the statements of 129 witnesses.
Additionally, witnesses referred to the active involvement of Inspector K.K. Mysorewala (now a Superintendent of Police) in ordering police firing on Muslims after discussions with former Minister Mayaben Kodnani, but he has not been arraigned. Incidentally, Maya Kodnani was arrested following investigations by the SIT in the early phases. According to witnesses, Mysorewala is said to have told those seeking protection that there were “instructions/orders from higher authorities not to protect you. There is no order to save Muslims… you have to die today.”

Former Gujarat Minister Mayaben Kodnani and VHP leader Jaydeep Patel, both accused in the Naroda Patiya riot case, outside a court in Ahmedabad in April 2009.
An analysis of calls from Mysorewala’s phone, as reflected in Pathak’s petition and the affidavits, shows that he received a call from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel, who is accused in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases. The timing of the call, as recorded, was when the massacre was at its worst, says the petition. Witnesses also recount Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer K.P. Parekh as telling the hapless victims that no one would save them as they had orders from higher authorities to kill them. Parekh has not yet been arraigned.
The infamous case of Babu Bajrangi has also been brought up in the petitions. Pathak’s petition says 15 witnesses named Bajrangi as the leader of a mob that slaughtered 95 people and cut open the abdomen of Kauserbanu and killed her foetus. The SIT has not sought the cancellation of his bail, and he has been allowed to travel abroad. According to the petitioners, 53 witnesses named Suresh Langda Richard Chara as the person who led a mob to kill, rape and burn Muslims. Chara roams free and the SIT has not arraigned him either.
In spite of cries for help, as is evident from the hours and hours of recorded phone records, no help came to the Gulberg Society, where 70 Muslims were burned or hacked to death over a period of 11 hours. Congress Member of Parliament Ahsan Jaffri was one of them. The petitioners said the SIT had failed totally to “inquire/investigate into the circumstances in which repeated calls for police assistance went unheeded”. In this case the SIT has arraigned 25 persons, including Inspector K.G. Erda of the Meghaninagar Police Station, who was in the area at the time of the carnage. The petitions state that Erda’s phone records show that during the hours of the carnage on February 27 and 28, 2002, he made several calls to the police control room, Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey, Joint Commissioner M.K. Tandon and Deputy Commissioner of Police P.B. Gondia.
While the SIT has interrogated Tandon, it has taken little action, say the petitioners. In fact, Tandon admitted to the Nanavati Commission that he was informed that Ahsan Jaffri was in danger. Pandey, the records show, had even visited Jaffri and told him that police protection would be provided. Phone records prove that both Tandon and Pandey were in touch with the police officers in the riot-hit areas. Yet, Jaffri was killed. The petitions point out that there were records to show that Jaffri made nearly 200 calls for assistance. Some of these were to the police control room. At the time, Cabinet Ministers Ashok Bhatt and I.K. Jadeja were in the control room, but no one helped Jaffri.
The case of Shivanand Jha, Assistance Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, is even stranger. He was in charge of the control room at that time and the needle of suspicion should point to him. But he is a key member of the SIT.
There has been no further investigation by the SIT in the Godhra trial too. The petitioners say the SIT has accepted the investigation carried out by a clearly biased Gujarat Police. The affidavits delve largely into the actions of senior policemen. Many pages are dedicated to location details and phone calls made by the victims. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Pandey was given a clean chit by the SIT in April last year as he claimed that he was in charge of the bodies of those who died in the Godhra train fire and was unaware of the actual situation in the city. Phone call records indicate that he was very much in touch with police personnel in all the riot-hit areas during the worst hours of the massacre.
Activists such as Teesta Setalvad have said there should be a re-investigation into his partisan role. They wonder why the Police Commissioner was handling dead bodies when the city was burning. Similarly, Tandon’s actions on that day have not been questioned. He visited Naroda Patiya after speaking to Pandey. Once there, he found the crowd restive and so was compelled to order a curfew, at 12.29 p.m. Yet he left the area at 12.33 p.m. without ensuring that it was implemented. Naroda went up in flames soon after.
The petitioners believe that the singular lack of investigation has to be viewed in the context of the fact that the main investigation officers of the SIT – Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia – are all Gujarat-cadre officers who were subordinate and answerable to Pandey until recently.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Social activists have pointed out that the SIT did not question several people who allegedly played a role in the riots.
They are also in the service and under the control of the Gujarat government, which for obvious reasons has resisted any form of investigation into the riots. Johri’s role in the Sohrabuddin encounter case was criticised recently by the Supreme Court itself. In the context of all this, Teesta Setalvad and many other activists have demanded the reconstitution of the SIT.
On the overall treatment of the victims, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had filed a petition against the Gujarat government, pointing out that the government was hostile towards them. The manner in which evidence was being recorded and the questionable trial court procedures were also in focus. For instance, the NHRC says that in the Gulberg Society trial it has been noticed that there is a significant change in the manner in which the court is treating the witnesses after four or five crucial witnesses deposed.
In the case of Saeed Khan Pathan, while he was attempting to explain how he was being threatened by the accused, the court refused to record his explanation. Even after his lawyer made a detailed application saying his explanation should be recorded in its entirety, the judge refused to oblige. Three Muslims visiting from the United Kingdom in 2002 were hacked to death by a group of people near Pratij in Gujarat. Two eyewitnesses have turned hostile in this case, too. The petitioners have sought better security measures after a car with shaded windows drove dangerously close to one of them within the court premises.
It remains to be seen how the SIT will respond to the Supreme Court directive. Speaking toFrontline on the phone, its Chairman, R.K. Raghavan, said that the response would be filed before the March 15 hearing. He added that the SIT had responded to many of the issues raised by the petitioners in the note it had given to the amicus curiae.
“Now, the court wants to take a look at our responses directly. It will be placed before the court in a sealed cover. It is up to the court to decide whether to make it public or not,” Raghavan said. Hemantika Wahi, counsel for the Gujarat government, told Frontline that the State government would have no role in preparing the response and it was wholly up to the SIT to draft the response.
Clearly, the court directive has added a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat carnage cases. Whether this will ultimately result in justice for the victims depends on several factors, including the SIT response.

Giving Guj riots probe to CBI a closed chapter, rules SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the "chapter" of handing over the post-Godhra riots investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was "closed", and the exercise would only "put the clock back".A three-judge Bench headed by Justice D K Jain observed that to transfer the probe from the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up on March 26, 2008, to the CBI would only retard the progress made since its inception.
The court was replying to a submission by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for human rights activists, for a CBI probe.
"That chapter is closed. Transferring the investigation to another agency will only put the clock back. All the work done so far will go waste and this investigation will take a long time to finish," noted the Bench, also comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam.
Citing a judicial order passed by Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate S P Tamang on September 7, 2009 in the Ishrat Jahan case, Jaiswal argued that many police officers indicted in the Ishrat case were "assisting" the SIT members in the Godhra probe.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, too, criticised the SIT for "keeping back evidence" from the trial.
The apex court has now directed SIT chairman and former CBI director R K Raghavan to "comment" on the allegations of lapses made by the activists.
Jaiswal also questioned how senior advocate Harish Salve, an amicus curiae in the post-Godhra cases, could appear for the Gujarat government in the Ishrat case. "I have no faith in the amicus curiae. Everybody is appearing for everybody here. My Lords should discipline the court," Jaiswal said.
To this, the court responded that it was up to the Bench to decide who they should appoint as amicus.
Replying to a suggestion mooted by the SG that adverse remarks passed by the apex court against IPS officer and SIT convenor Gita Johri in the Soharabbuddin fake encounter case made her position shaky, Salve said "heavens will not fall" if she was relieved of her duties.
Salve, however, suggested that the SIT should be given liberty to consult Johri on the investigations.
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Reply to complaints, court tells Raghavan
J. Venkatesan

R.K. Raghavan
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the comments of R.K. Raghavan, head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the Godhra and post-Godhra communal riot cases in Gujarat, on an application alleging lapses in the probe and seeking reconstitution of SIT.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam granted him three weeks to file his response.
Devendra Bhai Pathak and other applicants said there were serious concerns at the manner in which trial in seven cases was proceeding, despite SIT presence and supervision. They alleged that SIT refused to look into key aspects of further investigation, especially dealing with mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. Among the issues were: “Police witnesses, directly working with the SIT, turning hostile to the shock of the trial court which made observations about their conduct after they were declared hostile; [other] witnesses turning hostile, the SIT not ensuring them adequate safety.”The applicants said several people, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Secretary Chaturvedi, who were allegedly part of the conspiracy to create communal disturbances, were not questioned by SIT. This amounted to a serious lapse.
Counsel Kamini Jaiswal alleged that SIT was not conducting the investigation properly and said it should be reconstituted. For, three of its members — police officers Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia — who had been indicted, could not continue. When she pressed for a CBI probe, Mr. Justice Jain said: “Don’t raise that plea now. That is a closed chapter. The investigation has already progressed and the trial commenced. It will be like putting the back the clock.”
Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Centre, cited instances of SIT not producing evidence before the trial court and said this affected its credibility. When amicus curiae Harish Salve suggested that SIT could take the assistance of Ms. Johri for past investigation, Mr. Justice Alam said, “Our [Supreme Court] observations against her in the Sohrabuddin case cannot be brushed aside.” Mr. Salve said he would have no problem if Ms. Johri was removed from SIT. On the allegation that the SIT chief was not available in Gujarat and his absence hampered the investigations and trial, Mr. Salve said Mr. Raghavan had informed him that he was appointed only to oversee the investigation and hence his constant presence in the State was not required. The Bench listed the case for further hearing on March 15.

Court may consider plea to recall order referring Zakia complaint to SIT



The Hindu
The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it would consider the former Union Law Minister and senior advocate, Ram Jethmalani's plea to recall the order, passed in April 2009, referring to the Special Investigation Team Zakia Jaffrey's complaint citing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others as accused.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam agreed to hear Mr. Jethmalani, appearing for a BJP MLA Kalu Bhai Maliwad, on recalling the April 27, 2009 order, after the counsel alleged that it was passed without any of the 63 persons cited as accused given notice.
The Bench also directed a trial court in Ahmedabad to defer its hearing in the Gulberg Society case following a petition filed in the Gujarat High Court seeking transfer of the case to another trial court judge. The Bench took into consideration the submissions made by Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanian and senior advocate and amicus curiae Harish Salve that Special Public Prosecutor R.K. Shah had tendered resignation, making certain allegations against the judge and the SIT and opining that the trial should be deferred.
Mr. Subramanian said: “The letter makes it clear that the public prosecutor was not allowed to examine the witnesses in the docket, and even the SIT was not making available to him documents relating to the case.” He wanted the court to find some innovative means under such circumstances. The Bench asked the SIT, headed by R.K. Raghavan, to respond to Mr. Shah's allegations.
Earlier, the Bench perused the response, received from the SIT in a sealed cover, to certain allegations levelled by petitioners Devendra Bhai Pathak and others alleging lapses in the probe and seeking reconstitution of the SIT. They alleged that the SIT refused to look into the key aspects of further investigation, especially mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. The Bench asked the Registry to give copies of the report to the amicus curiae and the Solicitor-General and refused to give copies to the Gujarat government.
The Bench also asked the amicus curiae to obtain the SIT's response to another application moved by Ismail Mulla in respect of certain allegations and posted the matter for further hearing in the first week of April.
When Mr. Jethmalani pleaded for recall of the April 2009 order, Justice Jain said: “We have to consider whether the order in entirety can be recalled or in part.” The counsel said: “The target of the case is accused number one [Narendra Modi].” Ms. Jaffrey's complaint accuses Mr. Modi and others of orchestrating the 2002 riots.
Mr. Jethmalani argued that the “order for the SIT probe is not in the interest of law and justice, as the document is not a complaint for cognisance, as accused number 13 [Maliwad] was not heard.” He said the provisions of the Cr.P.C. were overlooked, and the case was handed over to the SIT, whose member, Shivanand Jha, a senior IPS officer, was named an accused. He wanted the order passed by Justice Arijit Pasayat (since retired) and Justice A.K. Ganguly recalled

Court asks Geeta Johri, Jha to keep off probe

Apr 6, 2010 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained senior IPS officers Geeta Johri and Shivanand Jha, who are members of the Special Investigation Team, from associating themselves with the probe/trial of the 2002 Gujarat riot cases until further orders.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam passed this order following allegations by Devendra Bhai Pathak and other petitioners of lapses in the probe and their plea for reconstitution of the SIT, formed by the court and headed by the former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan. The Bench asked amicus curiae Harish Salve to furnish to Gujarat copies of the comments received from the SIT and its members on certain allegations to enable the State to respond, and posted the matter to April 19, when it would consider the plea for reconstitution of the SIT and stay of the trial.
The petitioners alleged that the SIT refused to look into key aspects of further investigation, especially mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. In particular, it was pointed out that the court had indicted Ms. Johri in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and Mr. Jha had been cited as one of the accused in the complaint given by Zakia Jaffrey, wife of the former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffrey, who was burnt alive. Ms. Jaffrey wants a probe against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others for their alleged role in the riots. The petitioners sought further investigation and stay of the trial in the 10 cases handled by the SIT.
At one stage, when the Bench was about to stay the trial, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Gujarat, said the court should not pass any order without hearing the State.
Counsel said 1,061 out of 2,100 witnesses were already examined. No investigation was pending, charge sheets were filed and trial was proceeding in all the 10 cases without any complaint. As for 100 witnesses turning hostile, Mr. Rohatgi said it happened just like in any other trial.
When Justice Sathasivam asked, “When serious allegations are made against the SIT, should we keep quiet,” Mr. Rohatgi replied, “Should you stay the trial for this reason?”
Counsel said: “The petition was motivated. All of a sudden, allegations were being made against the SIT, the public prosecutors, judges, magistrates and others.” Questioning the procedure adopted by the court, Mr. Rohatgi said: “One-and-half years after the SIT had conducted the investigation and [when] trial was going on, the Supreme Court should not act as a super appellate court going into the correctness of charge sheets etc, violating all procedures.”
The former Union Law Minister and senior counsel, Ram Jethmalani, appearing for BJP MLA Kalu Bhai Maliwad, who wants recalling of the order April 27, 2009 order passed on Ms. Jaffrey's complaint, said: “Justice is not a layman's search for truth. This is a game. It should be played according to the rules.”
“Violation of procedure”
Mr. Jethmalani said: “What the petitioners want is that all 63 persons [cited in Ms. Jaffrey's complaint] including Mr. Modi should be hanged without any hearing. Every order that is being passed by the Supreme Court is in violation of the procedure contemplated under the Cr.PC and prejudicial to the accused.”
When Justice Jain wanted to know whether the earlier orders passed in this case were in exercise of powers under Article 142 to render complete justice, he said: “Even under Article 142, no order can be passed in violation of a procedure under a statute, viz. the Cr.PC. I am sorry to say that all these orders were passed without any authority under law.”
Earlier, Mr. Salve referred to the comments received from the SIT and said it had not considered certain aspects. When the credibility of the SIT was at stake, it would lead to larger implications. He said he would get points from the petitioners on the comments of the SIT and formulate the issues for consideration by the court at a hearing on April 28, when it would also consider Mr. Jethmalani's submissions.
Solicitor-General and another amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam pleaded for reconstitution of the SIT and stay of the trial in the meantime.

Guj riots: Is SC trying to shore up SIT credibility?

Lets Chief Add 2 More Outsiders To Allay Fears Over Fairness

Manoj Mitta | TNN May 28, 2010

New Delhi: Even as it is set to deal with the special investigation team’s (SIT) sealed-cover report on Narendra Modi’s alleged complicity in Gujarat riots, the Supreme Court has made a succession of unusual moves as part of what seems to be an elaborate damage-control exercise to restore the SIT’s credibility. 
    The latest is the order passed on May 14 acceding to the request of SIT chairman R K Raghavan that he be allowed to add two more non-Gujarat members to his team, evidently to allay fears that its investigations have been compromised by the three members drawn from the state police. A three-judge bench headed by Justice D K Jain passed the order just before the summer break sitting in his chamber rather than in the courtroom. 
    Activist Teesta Setalvad filed an application on Monday objecting to the claim made in the order that the advocates representing the interests of riot victims had been present at the unscheduled chamber hearing. Seeking a modification of the May 14 order, Setalvad’s application proposed that before the new SIT members were finalized, the names proposed by Raghavan and amicus curiae Harish Salve should be disclosed in the open court to facilitate a transparent verification of the credentials of those candidates. 
    Raghavan’s plea for expanding his team came in the wake of another un
usual order of the Supreme Court passed on May 6 taking cognizance of the allegations against the SIT of conducting faulty investigations, especially because three of its four members were from the Gujarat police. 
    Rather than seeking an independent appraisal, the court in its May 6 order directed a member of SIT, A K Malhotra, to probe the allegations against the other members as well as chairman Raghavan. The apparent justification for entrusting such a responsibility to Malhotra was that, besides chairman Raghavan, he was the only SIT member from outside Gujarat. 
    For the same reason, Malhotra was the member who interrogated Modi in March while probing Zakia Jafri’s complaint, which had been referred to SIT by the apex court. The court asked Malhotra to look into the allegations against SIT shortly after he had submitted his report on the allegations against Modi and other influential persons. 
    This was preceded by yet another attempt by the apex court to restore SIT’s credibility. On April 6, it directed two of the three Gujarat members, Geeta Johri and Shivanand Jha, to keep away from all investigations related to the riots. The third SIT member from Gujarat, Ashish Bhatia, was not asked to keep away although, as the officer in charge of the Gulbarg case, he was the main target of allegations of cover-up. 
    Even otherwise, the Supreme Court’s failure to shunt Bhatia out of SIT raised eyebrows because it had already stayed the trial of the Gulbarg case on March 15 on the basis of the disclosures made against him by special public prosecutor R K Shah. 

Shooting Down Worries 

On April 6, the Supreme Court passed an order, directing two of its three Gujarat members—Geetha Johri and Shivanand Jha—to stay away from riots probe In May 6 order, the SC took cognizance of faulty probe allegations against the SIT, especially as three of its four members were from the Gujarat police. It also directed its only non-Gujarati member besides chairman Raghavan to probe the allegations In its order on May 14, it agreed to Raghavan’s request of adding non-Guj members to ward off fears of biased probe by three state police members

Riots SIT hit by rows since its birth


Members, prosecutors and even amicus curiae were either dropped or opted out as charges flew thick

The unprecedented step of the Supreme Court, which on Thursday sidestepped its own Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 riots, was only a culmination of a slew of controversies that have dogged the SIT ever since it was formed in April 2008.
It all started with the inclusion of the then deputy superintendent of police and controversial investigation officer of the Godhra train burning incident, Noel Parmar, into the SIT. Parmar was the officer who floated the terror conspiracy theory in the case and booked the accused under controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). The Gujarat High Court later dropped POTA charges. Several persons, including the relatives of the accused in the case, had written to SIT chief R K Raghvan opposing Parmar's inclusion in the team. Parmar was eventually dropped from the SIT.
The SIT ran into another controversy when some NGOs opposed the continuation of two of the SIT members, Gujarat-cadre IPS officers Geetha Johri and Shivanand Jha, on grounds of their official conduct. The SC then directed Raghvan to drop Johri and Jha from the SIT but Raghvan responded by asking the apex court to reconsider its decision. This led the SC to remark, "We did not pass the order on the request of SIT chief, have we? What is the relevance of SIT chairman seeking to retain two of its members?"
While Johri and Jha from dropped from the SIT on the SC orders, IPS officer Paramvir Singh, who replaced one of them, opted out soon after his inclusion.
The SIT also courted controversy over special public prosecutors (SPP) who were appointed under its recommendation. The SPP, R K Shah, and his assistant in the Gulberg Society killings case, Nayana Bhatt, had quit while complaining about SIT's functioning. The two lawyers had particularly raised questions over the role played by one of the SIT members and a Gujarat-cadre officer, Ashish Bhatia.
The public prosecutors in the Ode killings case, C H Desai and M C Desai, had also withdrawn from the case midway. Even the SPP in the Naroda Gam killings case, Nigam Shukla, had opted out under controversial circumstances.
The appointments of the amicus curiae in the matter had also had its share of controversy. The original amicus curiae in the matter, Prashant Bhushan, was allowed to withdraw by the SC after the Gujarat government opposed his appointment, alleging he was biased and had strong views against Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
One other amicus curiae in the matter, senior SC counsel Harish Salve, also withdrew from the matter after facing criticism for having a conflict of interest.
SIT chief R K Raghvan has also been under fire from political parties, NGOs and victims of the 2002 riots. Besides being accused of shielding Narendra Modi, Raghvan has also drawn criticism for not probing into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 riots.
The Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is now in the eye of a storm over his affidavit linking Modi to the 2002 riots, has also accused SIT led by Raghvan of disregarding the information he was providing against Modi as a witness.
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Letter from PW Ashish Khetan to Chairperson SIT RK Raghavan
February 8 2013
Dear Mr. Raghvan
As you must be aware my deposition in Naroda Gam Massacre case is presently on.
I’d like to bring to your notice a few disturbing developments.
First of all the defense lawyers particularly Mr. Chetan Shah have been quite abusive and insulting while cross-examining me. Through out my deposition he kept taunting and humiliating me. Also many of his questions were aimed at insulting and annoying me. But this was not all. On more than one occasion he also tried to intimidate and threaten the presiding judge. He on multiple ocassions screamed at her at the top of his voice and humiliated her in front of the packed court room.
The developments outside the courtroom have also been quite discouraging. The Ahmedabad edition of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper dated February 5 published a factually incorrect and depraved account of my ongoing deposition in the Naroda Gram massacre case. On the same day the Delhi edition of the same group published a story claiming that I have retracted my testimony.
These two articles triggered a vicious vilification campaign against my evidence on social media. Clearly it’s an attempt to not only demoralize me but also vitiate the public opinion against the credibility of my ongoing evidence.
Today, I sent a mail to Ahmedabad edition’s resident editor (on his email id demanding an apology and clarification.
But instead of correcting the mistake, Mr. Jain called me from his cellphone 09978910358 at 8:14 pm and threatened that more editions of Dainik Bhaskar Group could also now start reporting that I’d retracted my statement.
Though I’m trying at my level to stop this vilification campaign against my evidence and writing letters to all concerned, I’d appreciate if you could also take steps you deem appropriate to preserve the sanctity of the ongoing trial.
Best regards
Ashish Khetan

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