In a jolt to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, a Supreme Court-appointed lawyer's report on the post-Godhra 2002 riots has held that he can be prosecuted for "promoting enmity among different groups".
Amicus curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramachandran's report, made public on Monday, on a complaint by riot victim Zakia Jafri, differs from the clean chit given to Modi by the SC-appointed special investigation team (SIT) last month, citing lack of prosecutable evidence.
In Ramachandran's opinion, offences can be made out against Modi under sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with "promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion" and making assertions "prejudicial to national integration".
Ramachandran notes that Modi can also be prosecuted under other sections of the IPC pertaining to public servants disobeying the law with the "intent to cause injury to any person" and for "promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will".
Unlike the SIT, Ramachandran doesn't dismiss suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's claim that he was present at a meeting where Modi allegedly told top officials to let "Hindus vent their anger".
"It would not be correct to disbelieve the version of Shri Bhatt, at this prima facie stage," he states in his report.
The BJP promptly rejected Ramachandran's report, standing by Modi who is often talked about as a future prime ministerial candidate of the party.
Party leader Arun Jaitley said, "There is no provision under the Code of Criminal Procedure or the Evidence Act for the opinion of a lawyer or an amicus curiae… Criminal trials are to be conducted under due process of law and not on the basis of opinions."
The Congress, however, insisted that Ramachandran's report had removed all doubts about Modi's complicity in the riots in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
"The whole nation knows who was responsible for the riots. No more inquiry is needed," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Zakia gets SIT report | Vote: Are 2002 riots blocking Modi's rise?
Read the full report here: