Ever since the SIT filed a closure report in relation to the Zakia Jafri’s complaint and the local Magistrate in Ahmedabad accepted the same, Modi bhakts and some sections of media have gone on a deafening chorus that Modi has been given a clean chit by the Court. To briefly recall, in connection with Zakia Jafri’s complaint, Supreme Court had directed SIT to file it’s report before the Magistrate under section 173(8) of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The Magistrate was directed to decide whether or not to accept SIT’s closure report. The Magistrate after hearing both parties had opined that the evidence collected by SIT did not make out a criminal case against Modi in connection with the Gulberg case. That order has been challenged by Zakia Jafri before the High Court of Gujarat and the hearing is fixed on 11th April, 2014. Therefore the opinion of the Magistrate which is restricted only to the violence in the Gulberg case is presently under challenge.
Firstly let us ask a simple question to those who have raised the crescendo of “Clean-Chit”. What is the meaning of a clean-chit in criminal law? The lexicons do not define it. No such word is defined or used in criminal law. In common parlance, it would mean the exoneration from the charges or allegations. Can Mr Jaitley point out which of the order or report in the three proceedings mentioned herein above, namely the one before the SIT, before the Supreme Court and before the local Magistrate, would amount to a clean-chit? The Supreme Court had not accepted the SIT report and had merely sent the SIT report to the Magistrate for his consideration. The SIT report in the Zakia case was the opinion of the Investigating officer to the effect there wasn’t sufficient evidence to send Mr Modi to trial. The acceptance of this opinion by the Magistrate neither leads to a conclusion that the accused has been exonerated nor does it create any bar for a fresh investigation.
In a case between Mehiboobsab VS Upalokyukte decided by the Karnataka High Court (reported in ILR 2002 KAR page 2535 dated 18th April, 2002), the Court while dealing with a similar question observed as under:
20)…If the Investigating Officer is of the opinion that there is a case to place the accused on trial, it results in filing of charge-sheet. If the Investigating Officer is of the opinion that there is no case to place the accused on trial, it results in submission of a ‘B’ Report. Submission of ‘B’ Report, when accepted by the Criminal Court, ends in closure/filing of the proceedings. Therefore, filing of ‘B’ Report is only an expression of the opinion of the Investigating Officer that there is no material to place the accused under criminal trial; and when a Criminal Court accepts the ‘B’ Report and orders filing of the proceedings, it neither enquires into any charge, nor records a finding that the accused is not guilty. In fact, when there is no charge, the question of exoneration from such charge does not arise…
To reiterate, the above judgement states that the acceptance of a closure report by the Magistrate, as in case of Zakia Jafri’s case,
- Neither means that the accused, eg. Narendra Modi, is not guilty
- Nor is the accused, eg. Narendra Modi, exonerated from the charge
Thus, the law clearly states that even the acceptance of a closure report (same as B-report) by the Magistrate does not exonerate or prove the innocence of the accused. In criminal law, only after a person has faced the trial and the Court had the occasion to consider all evidence appearing against the accused and thereafter acquitted on merit, the person is proven to be innocent of exonerated. In fact, in case of a closure report, the statements based on which the investigating officer forms an opinion are not even considered as ‘evidence’ in the eye of law. Therefore there is no question of Mr Narendra Modi being innocent or exonerated merely because the closure report of SIT has been accepted by the magistrate, especially, when the order of the Magistrate is under challenge before the High Court.
Besides the Zakia Jafri case, there is another application filed against Narendra Modi and four others before the SIT in connection with the Naroda Patiya case and SIT’s report is still awaited after 5 years. This is the same case where Maya Kodnani, one of Modi’s ministers, has been proven guilty and is serving a life term in Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Jail.
Thus, when the law doesn’t give Mr Narendra Modi a clean chit, why is Mr Jaitley and the media creating a delusion of clean chit?