2002 Riots: SC hands clean chit to Narendra Modi

Upholding the trial court and high court’s order to give clean chit to the then CM Narendra Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots, the Supreme Court said that there was no evidence to prove the allegations that the Godhra incident and the subsequent violence was pre-planned.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar rejected the submission regarding build-up of communal mobilisations and stockpiling of weapons, arms and ammunitions even before the Godhra episode and said that it is devoid of merit as revealed by extensive and thorough investigation by the SIT. It said that the concerned officials were vigilant, “but the situation as evolved post Godhra incident, was unparalleled and had overrun the State administration. ”

“Suffice it to observe that there is no title of material, much less tangible material to support the plea of the appellant that the Godhra incident unfolded on February 27, 2002, and the events which followed, was a preplanned event owing to the criminal conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the State,” the bench said.

“. . . Inaction in the response or even in a given case of non-responsive administration, can be no basis to infer hatching of criminal conspiracy by the authorities of the state government in absence of any clear evidence about the meeting of minds; and that, failure to respond to the messages sent by SIB (State Intelligence Bureau) was a concerted and deliberate act of omission or commission on the part of the State and other functionaries, as alleged . . . . The magistrate, as well as, the high court committed no error whatsoever in accepting the final report presented by the SIT,” the Supreme Court said. Referring to the failure of the state administration in controlling the violence the bench said inaction or failure of some officials of one section of the state administration cannot be the basis to infer a preplanned criminal conspiracy or to term it as a state-sponsored crime (violence) against the minority community.

“The SIT had noted that inaction and negligence of the erring officials has been taken note of at the appropriate level including by initiating departmental action against them. Such inaction or negligence cannot pass the muster of hatching of a criminal conspiracy, for which the degree of participation in the planning of commission of an offence of this magnitude must come to the fore in some way,” the bench said.

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