The Gujarat High Court today deferred to August 21 the pronouncement of its order on a petition by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging a lower court order upholding a clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 riots cases. Justice Sonia Gokani told the lawyers representing Zakia, the SIT and the state government that she will pronounce the order on August 21. The hearing in the case had concluded on July 3. The high court had earlier said that it would pronounce the order today. It has heard a criminal review petition moved by Jafri and activist Teesta Setalvad's NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, challenging the lower court order upholding the clean chit given by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the alleged larger criminal conspiracy behind the 2002 riots. The petitioners also demanded fresh investigation. The petition demanded that Modi and 59 others be made as accused on charges of criminal conspiracy behind the riots. On 28 February 2002, 68 people, including Ehsan Jafri, were killed by a mob at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad. During the course of hearing, the SIT had submitted before the court that its report challenged by Jafri was investigated under the watchful eyes of the apex court and was largely accepted by all. It had submitted that the lower court, where the case was first heard, had looked into all aspects of the allegations to conclude that there was no further need to investigate the matter from the angle of larger conspiracy. Zakia's lawyer Mihir Desai had told the court that the magistrate, who accepted the SIT's closure report, did not even consider other options like rejecting the report, or ordering a fresh probe. He submitted that the lower court ignored the Supreme Court's guidelines and had not considered the signed statements of witnesses which suggested that there was conspiracy behind the incidents. He also mentioned that the court had ignored submissions of key witnesses like Sanjiv Bhatt, R B Shreekumar and Rahul Sharma, and had ignored the findings of Tehelka magazine regarding the same. In December 2013, a metropolitan court had rejected Jafri's plea to book Modi and others for criminal conspiracy, after which she moved the high court in 2014. Apart from political leaders, Jafri's complaint also included bureaucrats, police and private individuals. The SIT had on February 8, 2012, filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and others in the case.
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