No material to say political establishment turned Nelson’s eye in 2002 Gujarat riots: SC

“We find that the opinion recorded by the SIT is after due consideration of all aspects and backed by tangible materials gathered during investigation by it.
Gujarat riots

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday said the SIT investigation into 2002 Gujarat riots revealed that no material was discovered, pointing to a meeting of minds in the higher echelons, or the political establishment conspired with other persons to cause riots or turned “Nelson’s eye” when the riots broke out.

A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: “The materials gathered during the investigation, in no way link any ‘meeting of the minds’ in any of the nine (9) cases investigated by the SIT or for that matter, other incidents alleged in the complaint or the protest petition. The riots across the state had taken place spontaneously, immediately after the Godhra train carnage.”

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar, added: “In the investigation done by the SIT in all the nine sets of cases, no material was discovered pointing towards any meeting of minds/conspiracy in the higher echelons of the administration or the political establishment conspired with other persons to cause such riots or for having turned nelson’s eye when the riots had triggered and continued.”

It noted that there is no chain or any perceivable link or connection in these occurrences during the relevant period, which ought to be the quintessence, had it been a case of larger conspiracy at the highest level. “Indeed, the factum of conspiracy can be inferred, but absent any perceivable link, much less about the meeting of minds of all concerned, it is not open to assume conspiracy in the air,” it added.

The bench noted that the SIT had not found any conspiracy, linking separate and disparate acts of arson and looting or outrageous claims made in sting operations or individual utterances/publications of purported hate speech, to any singular larger conspiracy or planned event.

It said it is amply clear that the argument pressed into service on the premise of no investigation done by SIT on crucial matters is contrary to the materials on record. “We find that the opinion recorded by the SIT is after due consideration of all aspects and backed by tangible materials gathered during investigation by it. For the same reason, the argument regarding mass mobilisations and hate speech on February 27, 2002 regarding proactive and aggressive behaviour of persons returning from Ayodhaya/Karsevaks after the Godhra attack, is tenuous,” it added.

The Supreme Court made these observations while junking the appeal filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed during the violence at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society in 2002, challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others during the riots in the state.

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