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Gujarat: CJP welcomes supreme court order handing over the investigation and appraisal of the evidence to the amicus curaie

by Citizens for Justice and Peace, 6 May 2011

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Citizens for Justice and Peace

May 6, 2011

Press Note

The Citizens Justice and Peace (CJP), co-petitioner in SLP 1088/2008—Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP v/s state of Gujarat—welcomes the order of the Supreme Court handing over the investigation and appraisal of the evidence in this crucial criminal investigation to the amicus curaie, Shri Raju Ramachandran. We believe that the wealth of evidence available, the witnesses, including police officers and administration officials willing to depose will do so now without fear or favour .

Since October 2009, victim survivors and the CJP have together pointed out to the Hon’ble Supreme Court the unfortunate and unprofessional conduct of the SIT including its reluctance, and failure to investigate and arraign as accused, powerful politicians and policemen, destruction of records and knit together crucial evidence related to a criminal conspiracy. It is thanks to our interventions in the Supreme Court that, through an order of April 6, 2010, two members of the SIT were removed. Unfortunately the rest of the SIT too continued to function without insulating themselves from the Gujarat police, Gujarat government and its functionaries and this has seriously hampered the probe into the Zakia Ahsan Jafri complaint dated June 8, 2006.

We trust and hope that the present process that has entrusted the entire job to the amicus curaie, and by implication asked the SIT to step aside from the investigation, will restore the faith and integrity of the investigation process. The Supreme Court has authorized the Amicus Curaie to meet witnesses and officials directly and report back to the Court on whether there is enough material for the registration of an offence against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others. The prayer in the petition filed by Smt Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP is for registration of an FIR against 61 accused and the investigation to be conducted by the CBI.

The Supreme Court order gains particular significance in view of the fact that in mid April 2011, a serving officer of the Gujarat government, Sanjiv Bhatt (IPS) had in an affidavit directly submitted to the three judges hearing the case and the amicus curaie, Shri Ramachandran confirmed the illegal and unconstitutional instructions issued by chief minister Barendra Modi at a meeting at his Gandhinagar residence on February 27, 2002 . Worse he had expressed serious doubts about the intrgity of the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court probing the complaints stating that they had tried to intimidate him and other officers who were witness to his going to the chief minister’s residence. As disturbing was his account of RK Raghavan headed SIT’s conduct ---as far back as November 2009--- leaking vital evidence about Sanjiv Bhatt’s testimony to the highest echelons of the Gujarat government.

The amicus curaie did mention the affidavit of Shri Bhatt and while the document was not taken on record, the Coirt ordered the Government of Gujarat to ensure proper security to Shri Bhatt and also directed that the amicus should also meet Sanjiv Bhatt in the course of his investigations. While the press release of the Gujarat government has made much of the fact that the apex court has not taken this document on record, the decision of the court to bypass its own SIT and entrust the job, independently to the amicus, speaks for itself.

Media Coverage — Cases Related to Gujarat 2002

We at Citizens for Justice and Peace firmly believe that the media, especially during the ghastly pogrom of 2002, played the vital role of reflecting reality risking life and limb for fair and accurate coverage. The Editor’s Guild report, Rights and Wrongs (available at www.gujarat-riots.com ) reflects this reality. Sections of the Gujarati media were unfortunately collaborators in the bloodthirsty carnage but professional bodies saw this as a serious aberration and pulled their compatriots up.

However, the struggle for justice for the survivors of the Gujarat genocidal carnage has also been—especially since 2007—a battle against selective portrayals of the Gujarat administration and the battle for punishments of the perpetrators in the media. Unfortunately, as the selective coverage below reveals even Court reportage of the proceedings have been vindictive and selective, with some publications leading this unprofessional way. Without naming any one/ones newspaper/publication we enclose a selection of press clippings related to yesterday, i.e. May 5, 2011 coverage of the Supreme Court proceedings. We urge editors and journalists to reflect on the twists in reportage. We will also enclose the Supreme Court Order once it has been signed by the Judges—which contents should surely be at the core of the reportage and also the Gujarat Government’s Official Press Release.

We believe that while most publications were reasonably fair at least on the reporting pages, some leading newspapers stood out for reporting the official version put out by the Gujarat Government alone instead of the proceedings within the Court or the Court’s Order. We would like to gently point out that the Gujarat government functionaries are accused of gross criminal conduct—criminal conspiracy to commit mass murder and rape, destruction of records and subversion of evidence and for a leading newspaper to rely heavily, almost solely on the press note of the Gujarat Government is symptomatic of a uncritical and sycophantic media, not a healthy sign for freedom of press and free expression in a vibrant democracy like ours.

IM Kadri (President) Nandan Maluste (Vice President)

Teesta Setalvad (Secretary) Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer)

Javed Akhtar Cyrus Guzder

Alyque Padamsee Anil Dharker

Javed Anand Rahul Bose

Cedric Prakash Ghulam Pesh Imam

SEE ALSO:

CJP note on unabated intimidation of Teesta Setalvad by Gujarat govt.