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SIT opposes handing over riots probe report to activists

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Ahmedabad

The SIT today opposed sharing with activists its final report on the probe into allegations of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement in 2002 riots, as a court res

erved till Wednesday its order on their plea seeking access to the crucial document.
   
During the hearing in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate M S Bhatt, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team(SIT) opposed the applications by Teesta Seetalvad and other activists, saying some of them had no locus standi to be given a copy of the report.
  
SIT had submitted the report to the court in a sealed cover last week amid speculation that Modi may have got relief in the probe on Zakia Jafri’s complaint against the Chief Minister and others on the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Zakia’s  husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was among the 69 people killed in post-Godhra Gulberg Housing society riots.
   
SIT lawyer R S Jambuar said only after the court decides to close the complaint holding that there is no evidence, the copies could be given to the "original complainant" (Zakia), as per the Supreme Court’s order.
    
The SIT team also submitted an application seeking one month’s time to submit the statements, evidence and documents related to the probe. The application said since this material was voluminous and compiled in a haphazard way it needed time to serialise the papers before submitting to the court.
   
Jambuar said the documents were crucial and must be kept under tight security.
    
He admitted that SIT had obtained the report of the amicus curie Raju Ramchandran (appointed by the Supreme Court), and had considered it before submitting its own final report.
    
The amicus curie’s report had been dealt with in the SIT’s final report, Jambuar added.
   
On behalf of the applicants, Zakia’s lawyer S M Vora said her client, being the original complainant, should get a copy, as per the apex court’s order.
    
After hearing both the sides, the judge reserved the order till February 15.
    
"We appreciate the court’s decision to give its order in only two days time," Setalvad said.

I M Munshi, the lawyer of Setalvad, a co-complainant in the case, also demanded copy of the SIT report, adding that questions of locus standi did not arise at this stage.
    
As the report had been submitted to the court, it had become a public document and anyone could access it, he said.
    
The lawyer of NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch (which too has sought a copy) Samsahd Pathan, argued that only the magistrate’s court had the jurisdiction to decide its application, and SIT had no say in the matter.
    
He also sought permission to inspect the report.
   
But the SIT lawyer said that any person cannot access the report, because it had not been filed as a part of investigation of an FIR under section 124 of Criminal Procedure Code.
   
This report had been filed under section 173 (8) of CrPC, which deals with `further investigations’, and hence it was not a public document, he argued.
    
The report was submitted in a sealed cover to the court last Wednesday. It reportedly gives a clean chit to Modi and 56 others on the ground that there is no "prosecutable evidence".
   
The Supreme Court, which set up the SIT, had asked it to investigate whether there was a larger conspiracy behind the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, in which more than 1,200 people were killed.