Poornima Joshi (New Delhi)


The clandestine operation to use evidence in the Gujarat riot cases not to book the guilty but to help them frame their defence once again highlights the need for the appointment of an independent prosecuting agency such as the CBI. As IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt’s affidavit the Supreme court shows, the advocate general of Gujarat — Tushar Mehta — sent reports of the Special Investigation Team ( SIT) in the nine Gujarat riot cases to RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy. Gurumurthy was, in turn, framing the BJP’s political strategy to counter public opinion against chief minister Narendra Modi and the state government. He was also helping the accused frame their defence.


According to R. K. Shah, the special public prosecutor who resigned from the Gulbarga Society case last year, such activities have created an atmosphere of suspicion Gujarat. “ There is certainly an atmosphere in Gujarat that does not lend itself to fairness… I resigned as special public prosecutor from the Gulbarga case. Actually, it is proper for me to elaborate further,” Shah said, over the phone from Ahmedabad.


Shah said the possibility of the victims getting justice in such an atmosphere is “ highly remote”. No wonder then that the apex court did give copies of amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran’s report about CM Narendra Modi and other high state functionaries to either the SIT or the state government.


A special bench of justices D. K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam declined SIT chief R. K. Raghavan’s request to share the report with his team. The bench dismissed his plea with an assurance that he would be supplied with a copy at the “ appropriate time”. The state government, too, protested about not getting the amicus curiae’s report, presented to the bench in a sealed cover.


As Bhatt’s affidavit highlights, the secret status of investigations is freely used by RSS ideologues as well as law officers in Gujarat to frame strategies for the ruling party, the BJP, as well as for the accused.


That is why Ahmedabad- based senior advocate and activist Mukul Sinha has been arguing for over a year now that the SIT should be disbanded and the investigation and prosecution in the Gujarat riot cases should be handed over to the CBI with immediate effect.


“ We have believed right from the beginning that the Gujarat investigations and prosecution should have been carried out by an independent agency such as the CBI. The SIT is in cahoots with the state government to save the accused rather than punish the guilty,” Sinha said.


According to senior advocate in the SC, Colin Gonsalves, it is a travesty of justice that the evidence that should have been used to nail the guilty in the Gujarat riots is, instead, being used to help them.


“ If the Gujarat law officers are using SIT inquiries to help the accused, it strengthens the case for an independent prosecuting agency to take over the riot cases. The SIT was set up to deliver justice to the victims, not to help the accused,” Gonsalves said.

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