The verdict will certainly give a boost to the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate and party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said it was a big development.
Mukul Sinha, counsel for the victims said it is not the end of the battle and they would take up the Naroda Patiya case.
Tanvir Jafri, son of Zakia Jafri, said they were not planning any propaganda against Narendra Modi but would continue to fight. "No breather for him," he said.
The case was originally filed against Narendra Modi and 61 politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and others but the number of accused was later brought down to 56. Jafri's husband and former Congress MP Ahsan Zafri was killed along with 67 others by a mob in the Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002. The Supreme Court appointed a SIT under former CBI director RK Raghavan to conduct a preliminary inquiry and it cleared the BJP leader of all charges.
The verdict will virtually clear the way for Modi, feel experts
The plea was the only case on the 2002 riots involving Modi who was accused of hatching conspiracy and failing to discharge his duty as the administrator that led to the killing of hundreds of people across Gujarat, mostly from the minority community. The SIT submitted its closure report in September 2011 which said that there was not enough proof against Modi. The latter then started serial Sadbhavana Mission fasts to reach out to the minorities.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>Modi goes into the 2014 campaign untainted by propaganda. The verdict has proved that propaganda can never be a substitute for truth.</p>— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) <a href="https://twitter.com/arunjaitley/statuses/416166927845695488">December 26, 2013</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>Hmm. Political coincidence or plan that Commission into snooping allegations announced on same day as Gujarat court verdict on Modi?</p>— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) <a href="https://twitter.com/BDUTT/statuses/416167262048239616">December 26, 2013</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Nearly after a year of the filing of the report, Zakia Jafri lodged a protest petition challenging the SIT report and her lawyers accused the investigating team of being biased and ignoring the witnesses and evidence to file a closure report in a hurry. It was said that the SIT's evidence was enough for the court to take cognizance of the complaint and put Modi on trial. They also sought an independent reinvestigation into the case.
The SIT, on the other hand, dismissed the charges and counter-accused Zakia Jafri of forgetting the charges she had brought against Modi. It said that the evidence that was gathered against Modi was not sufficient to prosecute him.
In 2006, Zakia Jafri moved the Supreme Court after the Gujarat Police refused to lodge an FIR based on her allegations against Modi and 61 other people. The apex court then appointed the SIT to probe nine cases related to the riots in Gujarat.