Relief for Narendra Modi at being exonerated by the special investigation team (SIT) may be short-lived because the report on the Gujarat chief minister given by the amicus curiae (friend of the court), Raju Ramchandran, recommends his prosecution.
"These two reports have only compounded the matter because both have given reasons for their stated conclusions. It's a legal battle that will go on for years now," a senior lawyer who is involved in the case said.
"This is for the first time that a lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court has recommended the prosecution of Modi. So far, we had activists, victims and the media baying for his blood. Now, the amicus curiae in his official capacity has provided grounds for prosecution," he added.
Seeking Modi's prosecution, Ramchandran has held that the "stage for believing or disbelieving a witness arises only after the trial, once the entire evidence is placed before the court for its consideration".
On the other hand, the SIT, seeking closure of the case, said the allegations made by the complainant (Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congressman Ehsan Jafri) did not stand scrutiny because there was no "prosecutable evidence" and the investigation it carried out had "revealed that most of the allegations are not established or proved to be correct".
The SIT had relied on oral statements of the Gujarat government officials, retired and serving, and other documents such as demi-official letters and fax messages.
"Even if the magisterial court decides to close the case, the Supreme Court has given the complainant the first right to be heard, which means a protest petition. Subsequently, it will go to the high court and the Supreme Court, so a lengthy legal battle will continue," the lawyer added.