Gujarat Riots: SC Disposes of 10 Pleas Seeking Proper Probe, 'SIT Has Completed Investigation'

During the hearing, the bench led by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit also granted jailed activist Teesta Setalvad – whose NGO was one of the petitioners – liberty to seek protection from the relevant authority.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, August 30, disposed of a batch of pleas seeking a proper investigation of the violence that took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The pleas included transfer petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking that the cases be transferred from the Gujarat police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as well as Special Leave Petitions (SLP) filed by riot victims and a writ petition filed by NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, headed by jailed activist Teesta Setalvad.

The court, however, noted that since the court had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the cases and that investigation and prosecution is complete in all but one of the nine cases, the petitions are now infructuous (unnecessary).

The matter was being heard by a bench of the new Chief Justice of India, U.U. Lalit, as well as Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and J.B. Pardiwala.

Also read: SC Judgment on Zakia Jafri’s Plea Seeks to Invert the Binary of Victim and Defender

Counsel for the SIT, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi told the court trial is pending only in the case of the violence at Naroda Gaon and that the other eight cases are already in the appellate stages in the high courts and Supreme Court. 

Further, the court noted that the counsels for the petitioners had fairly accepted the SIT’s statement.

“Since all matters have now become infructuous, this court is of the view that this Court need not entertain these petitions any longer. The matters are therefore disposed of as being infructuous,” Live Law quoted the order as saying.

The court did, however, direct that the trial with respect to the remain case (i.e. Naroda Gaon) be taken to its conclusion “in accordance with the law” and to the extent the SIT be “certainly entitled to take appropriate steps in accordance with law”.

One of the lawyers for the petitioners, advocate Aparna Bhat, told the court that she was unable to get directions from Setalvad – who runs NGO CJP, a petitioner seeking protection in the present matter – since she was in custody of the Gujarat police. 

In response, the court granted Setalvad liberty to make an appropriate prayer and move an application with the relevant authority.

As and when such application is made, it shall be dealt with in accordance with law,” Live Law quoted the bench as saying.

Setalvad was arrested by an Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of the Gujarat police on June 25, a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a plea by Zakia Jafri challenging a lower court’s refusal to file a case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in the Gujarat riots.

Setalvad, whose NGO, CJP, worked to provide legal assistance to victims of the riots, was accused of running a conspiracy to send innocent persons to jail and has remained in custody since.