In an unusual move, the Supreme Court on Thursday sought an "independent and objective" assessment of the evidence recorded by the Raghavan committee probing the alleged role of Narendra Modi and others in the Gulberg society massacre during the post-Godhra riots.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Raghvan is looking into the role of the Gujarat CM and 62 other politicians/bureaucrats in the killing of Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri, whose wife Zakia had petitioned the SC for an independent probe.
After questioning Modi and other local BJP leaders and police officers, the SIT in its earlier report had said there was not enough evidence against the CM. The SC had then asked it to further probe the matter after amicus curiae (court's friend) senior advocate Raju Ramachaandran pointed out certain "inconsistencies".
After the SIT submitted the latest report, a special bench headed by justice DK Jain directed Ramachandran to objectively assess it and submit a report in eight weeks. The court fixed July 28 to hear the matter.
The court said Ramachandran will have access to the witnesses who gave statements before the SIT and he can even question them for an "objective" assessment of their evidence.
More importantly, the court said if Ramachandran concluded that a criminal offence could be made out against "any persons," he would be at liberty to mention the names in his report.
As the court passed the order, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, on behalf of Jafri's wife, alleged that a "cover-up job" was being done by the investigators. He also demanded a copy of the status report, saying, "Why should we be kept in dark?" But the court told Bhushan that it would wait for Ramachandran's report before proceeding further.
Meanwhile, the bench refused to take on record the affidavit of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who had accused Modi of having adopted an "anti-minority stance" during the riots.