The court set the deadline in the case — one of the 2002 Gujarat riots’ worst carnages in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among 71 people killed in the Ahmedabad residential complex — after taking on record documents placed by amicus curiae and senior lawyer Harish Salve related to the progress of the trial.
Salve told a bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justices Madan B. Lokur and M.Y. Eqbal that the judge hearing the Gulbarg case had retired and another had been appointed. The court then granted the new judge three months to complete the trial.
The apex court has been monitoring nine Gujarat riot cases probed by the SIT, headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan. The verdict has been delivered in six of the cases. In two others, including the Gulbarg Society case, the trial is on. The judgment in the ninth case, related to killing of some British nationals along with several others in the riots, has been reserved.
In April this year, the apex court had declined to re-constitute the SIT, as sought by an advocate, A. Fatima. She had pressed for a probe panel with at least three retired judges, including one from the minority community. Fatima had claimed that the SIT, which gave Modi the clean chit in 2012, was biased and tried to shield the then chief minister.
The SIT had probed the Gulbarg case on the apex court’s orders but found no evidence of Modi’s role. Zakia, the widow of slain Congress leader Jafri, had filed a plea seeking such an investigation.
Subsequently, the SIT filed a closure report in 2012 on the alleged involvement of Modi in the case, citing the lack of evidence. Zakia has challenged the conclusion in Gujarat High Court, where her petition is pending.