The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any order on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's alleged inaction to contain riots in 2002 and left it to the concerned magistrate's court to decide the course of action against him on the basis of the SIT report. The SIT has in its confidential report given a clean chit to Modi.
After the court's decision we try to examine if it is a real victory for Modi. According to the BJP, the decision has come as a major relief for Modi. The BJP said the Supreme Court's ruling has vindicated the party's stand that there was no shred of evidence against Modi in the 2002 riots.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said there was no evidence of involvement of Modi in the riots and apex court's order has vindicated the BJP stand. Echoing similar views, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushama, Sushma Swaraj said Modi has passed agnipareeksha (test by fire) and truth has emerged victorious.
Party veteran L K Advani also welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, saying it has come as a big relief to BJP, while Modi himself expressed his happiness over the ruling with a tweet, "God is great".
However, the Congress and the Left rejected BJP's contention. Law minister Salman Khurshid said the decision of the Supreme Court, not to further monitor the Gujarat riots case, was in no way a clean chit to Modi and the BJP was reacting even before the issue had been settled by the judiciary.
Contending the SIT report was still not in public domain, he said "the Supreme Court has said SIT must put its report before the magistrate (in Ahmedabad)...All this is still to happen and BJP is claiming they are in the clean and are acquitted...I want to know whether they are privy to inside records of Supreme Court, high court or trial court."
Ridiculing BJP's contentions, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi dismissed them as "self congratulatory, misleading and distorted". Taking a dig at the opposition party, he said it always has a healthy disregard for accuracy.
CPI-M said that the SC order was by "no means" exoneration of Modi but rather will lead to expansion of the charge sheet against him.
Meanwhile, Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in Gulberg Housing Society massacre, expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court order in the 2002 Gulberg Society riots case.
She said the real culprits are still roaming free. "I still have faith in the Supreme Court, but some things have been missed out," Zakia, whose husband was killed in Gulberg Housing Society massacre, she told reporters.
However, social activist Teesta Setalvad has described the Supreme Court verdict in the Gulberg Society massacre case as a "huge step forward".
Setelvad's NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), was a co-petitioner in the case, in which Ehsan Jafri, who had once been a Congress MP, was killed by a mob that was responsible for the deaths of 68 others.
"While the prayer in our petition was for the registration of an FIR against the chief minister and 61 others and the transfer of the investigation to the CBI, the order of the court goes much beyond this and in fact directs the SIT to chargesheet all accused on the basis of our complaint," she stated in her reaction, emailed to the media.
"According to me and according to other petitioners, the reason why it is a victory for us and not for Modi or the BJP is that it has gone past the FIR stage," said Setalvad, who had taken up the cause of the riot victims in 2002 itself.
The Supreme Court has asked the trial court in Gujarat to see if Modi and others could be proceeded against in the matter.
After going through the reactions it seems the SC decision has brought the 2002 Gujarat riots back on to the political centrestage. No doubt the Supreme Court has given Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi some relief, but no clean chit yet, in the Gulberg Housing Society massacre case that left 69 people dead, including Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. The final verdict on whether Modi has come out stronger or not after yesterday's verdict, will however come from the court itself.
Recall experience in India