SC steps in, HC revokes transfer of magistrate hearing Zakia plea

AZakia Jafri

The recent transfer of the metropolitan magistrate B J Ganatra, who was hearing Zakia Jafri's plea challenging the closure report filed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT that probed the 2002 riots, has reportedly been revoked by the Gujarat High Court on SC's directions.

According to sources in the Special Investigation Team (SIT), during the hearing of a bail application in the Gulberg Society massacre case on May 7, the SC was informed by amicus curiae Harish Salve that magistrate Ganatra had been transferred since his term had ended.

"The special three-member bench of SC was informed that arguments on Zakia's petition were in an advanced stage, but the routine transfer had turned the process back to square one. Therefore, the apex court conveyed to the Gujarat High Court that it would delay the case since the new magistrate would take his own time before starting the hearings, which could take months," said a source.

Following this, the SC reportedly communicated with the Gujarat High Court about rethinking the transfer.

Three top SIT officials - A K Malhotra, Ashish Bhatiya and Himanshu Shukla - met High Court registrar M J Thakkar on Friday evening and were reportedly told that the transfer had been revoked.

In her petition, Jafri had challenged the clean chit given by SIT to Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 61 others who she had accused of complicity in the 2002 riots in which her husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed at Gulberg Society, where they then lived.

SIT had termed Zakia's complaint as a "fiction" and its counsels had argued in Ganatra's court for six consecutive days before the Gujarat High Court announced his transfers as part of a routing shake-up.

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