Have the courts found Modi guilty of any crime?
It is sometimes claimed that did not find Modi guilty of involvement in the Gujarat 2002 violence. But, in reality, Modi has neither been tried, nor been exonerated, for his role in the violence. The legal argument has centred on whether he should stand trial, and after he became prime minister, the chances of this became very slim. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court questioned Modi in 2010 during which he denied all responsibility or claimed he could not recollect events. On several occasions Modi lied to the SIT, but despite freely available evidence contradicting Modi's versions of events, the SIT failed to challenge these lies or follow up with further questions.
The SIT concluded that it did not find any substantial incriminating evidence against Modi of willfully allowing the communal violence (see, for example, The Times of India). However this assessment was contradicted by the evidence it documented, and by the Supreme Court's own amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran, who independently examined the evidence and concluded that the Narendra Modi could be tried for various offences during the 2002 riots.
Considerable doubt has been cast on the credibility of the SIT by R.B. Sreekumar, former Gujarat State Director-General of Police and a variety of other commentators (for example: The Hindu, Communalism Combat, NDTV and a detailed and careful study by Manoj Mitta). These commentators note a large number of logical and factual errors in its report, arbitrary choices to ignore certain strands of evidence; the SIT also chose to ignore parts of its mandate, failing to investigate many elements of the conspiracy behind the violence of Gujarat 2002. It has also been argued that SIT chief R.K. Raghavan's past record meant that he was indebted to the BJP government, and hence unfit to lead the investigation.
In this context, in February 2013, the Supreme Court allowed a petition, the Zakia Jafri protest petition, against the SIT report which, if successful, would have paved the way for a prosecution of Modi. A Gujarat magistrates court rejected the petition in December 2013, and Zakia Jafri filed a criminal revision application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the order of the magistrates court. This was partly accepted by the Gujarat High Court, and at the time of writing the legal fight for justice continues. While many NGOs and individuals, including former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, V. N. Khare, believe Modi should stand trial, it remains open whether the evidence of Modi's complicity in the violence will ever be tested in court.
Gujarat 2002 justice in our news pages.