Supreme Court demonised a widow: Veteran lawyer Kamini Jaiswal on clean chit to Modi in 2002 genocide

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal called the Supreme Court’s ruling on Zakia Jafri’s appeal as a “wonderful piece of literature” and added that the ruling is “completely illegal, unconstitutional, and violates every tenet of law and fundamental rights.”

She was speaking in a meeting at Gujarat High Court advocate Anand Yagnik’s office, according to the Deccan Herald.

Over 50 people, including activists, academics, and lawyers, participated in the discussion on about the Gujarat 2002 genocide, Narendra Modi government’s witch-hunting of whistleblowers and activists and the apex court’s intervention.

They discussed about the “implications that the judgement of Supreme Court entails for the likes of those being persecuted, the victimology jurisprudence developed over time that it eradicates the various implications and the way forward to put in dock what actually needs to be,” according to the newspaper.

“It was a clear and simple case of an appeal against an order of the Gujarat High Court which rejected the revision petition filed by widow (Zakia) of Ahsan Jafri. We knew what was going to happen during the hearing. We knew what would happen. What would have gone unnoticed and nobody would have said anything had they just rejected the appeal saying there was no merit in it and HC order was right and the Supreme Court would not exercise its jurisdiction under article-136 and rejected the appeal. No, they wouldn’t do that,” remarked Jaiswal.

She expressly referred to the judgment’s paragraph 88, in which three judges’ bench of the Supreme Court has noted, “While parting, we express our appreciation for the indefatigable work done by the team of SIT officials in the challenging circumstances they had to face and yet, we find that they have come out with flying colours unscathed. At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation. Intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for last 16 years (from submission of complaint dated 8.6.2006 running into 67 pages and then by filing protest petition dated 15.4.2013 running into 514 pages) including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted (to borrow the submission of learned counsel for the SIT), to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design. As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law. “

She pointed to this one clause in particular as “underpardenable, completely illegal, unconstitutional, and violates every tenet of law.”

She brought up human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar, and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt as not being parties to this plea throughout the session and called the observations as jus “sermons” that led to arrests.

The veteran lawyer claimed that despite not issuing warnings, the top court nonetheless made this decision in “violation of their fundamental right” and “demonised” a widow (Zakia).

She said that the observations were only “sermons” that had led to arrests. Given that the petition is founded on remarks made by the Supreme Court of India, she further argued that Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt might not find relief quickly.

She stated that the Supreme Court panel overlooked the National Human Rights Commission reports and Raju Ramchandran’s amicus curiae report, which recommended an investigation into the role of the then chief minister Narendra Modi.

What the Supreme Court has done, according to Jaiswal, “is beyond the CRPC (code of criminal process) and its jurisdiction.”

Since the highest court made the observations, “we require a gutsy magistrate or a sessions judge to take some position,” the speaker stated.

Kamini Jaiswal, 71, is one of the strongest advocates of human rights in terror-related cases in India.

Jaiswal is a member of the Committee on Judicial Accountability which is a group of eminent lawyers of India who work to improve the accountability of judges.

Anand Yagnik, a lawyer for the Gujarat High Court, also expressed his discontent with the judgement, asserting that the Supreme Court had “started a new chapter of castigating those who are espousing the cause of justice and those who are fighting for human rights now are made accused in spite of the fact that Sanjiv Bhatt and Sreekumar were not there before the court.”

On 24 June, the Supreme Court of India rejected a petition brought by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress member Ehsan Jafri, who questioned the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) decision to exonerate Narendra Modi and numerous other Hindutva politicians and bureaucrats in the 2002 Gujarat Muslim genocide.

The following day, on 25 June, Teesta Setalvad, Sanjiv Bhatt, and R B Sreekumar were the targets of a FIR filed by Ahmedabad’s crime section. On the same day Setalvad was picked up from her Mumbai home by the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), Sreekumar was also taken into custody. She was remanded by the Gujarat police on 26 June together with Sreekumar until 2 July.

20 years of genocide

On 28 February 2002, Hindu mobs who were part of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unleashed massive violence against Muslims in Gujarat that went on for weeks killing thousands of Muslims.

About 3000 Muslims are killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship are destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people are displaced.

The massacre was unleashed after the burning of 59 Karsevaks on board the Sabarmati Express in Godhra which was probed and declared an accident.

Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, instructing police to stand by and let Hindu mobs do acts of violence against Muslims.

Strong evidence links the Narendra Modi administration in Gujarat to the carefully orchestrated anti-Muslim attacks. Hindu mobs had detailed lists of Muslim residents and businesses, and violence occurred within view of police stations. An independent media, Tehelka, used hidden cameras to capture some of the accused speaking openly of how the attacks had Modi’s blessings.