Stepping up attack on BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi, Congress party leader Kapil Sibal on Saturday said that the Supreme Court should have handed over 2002 Gujarat riots probe to an independent agency as the SIT had little powers to arrest or carry out searches.
Kapil Sibal, Congress candidate from Chandini Chowk, interacts with HT at his residence in New Delhi. (HT photo/Virendra Singh Gosain)
"While importance is being given to monitor corruption related cases, I think to keep humanity alive, the Supreme Court should have monitored all cases related to Gujarat riots through an independent investigation agency. It is sad," he told a press conference.
He said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) came into being in 2008, six years after the riots. "But who were the officers involved in SIT. They were the police officers under whose jurisdiction riots took place in the state...the SIT had no powers to search, no powers to investigate like CBI. It only recorded statements of witnesses," he said.
He said under such circumstances, the victims could not have got justice.
He made it clear that he was making these remarks as a Congress leader and a Lok Sabha candidate and not as the law minister of the country.
"Till the time, the SC decides to seek details on each and every death, people of Gujarat cannot get justice. We do not trust the Gujarat administration as 25 of its police officials are in jail over fake encounter....
"Under law, there cannot be two FIRs for the same crime. The Gujarat police registered FIRs on its own, therefore, the victims could not lodge their FIRs and name those responsible for the riots," Sibal alleged.
When asked why he he did not rake up the issue earlier, the Congress leader said he had appeared for the victims in court. He said while he is not making any allegation, the needle of suspicion points towards the Gujarat administration.
With the election nearing, Congress has been sharpening its attack on BJP's PM candidate over the post-Godhra riots with Rahul Gandhi demanding "legal accountability" for the "clear and inexcusable failure" of governance during the violence, and dismissed talk of a clean chit to Modi as "politically expedient" but "far too premature".
Sibal also rejected suggestions of a 'Modi wave' in the Lok Sabha elections saying the way the BJP was tying up with regional outfits proved that it was not confident that its prime ministerial candidate alone can bring sufficient numbers.
"If Modi is so confident, then he should contest from Varanasi alone and not stand from another seat in Gujarat. If there is a wave in his favour in Tamil Nadu, will he contest against P Chidambaram's son from Sivaganga," he quipped.
He also took a dig at BJP for denying ticket to party veteran Jaswant Singh.
"Modi only believes in himself. Lok Sabha elections are fought on the basis of policies of political parties not individuals," he said.