New Delhi: "God is great" tweeted Narendra Modi at 12:49 pm, a couple of hours after the Supreme Court ruled that it will no longer monitor the case against him for the communal riots at Gulbarga Society - one of the epicentres of the riots that ravaged Gujarat in 2002, killing 1200 people, most of them Muslims.
The Supreme Court's verdict asks a Gujarat court to decide whether Mr Modi's role in the riots needs to be investigated. That's been quickly interpreted by the BJP and the Chief Minister as a huge vindication. "I have never seen any leader vilified and maligned in this manner, he is an outstanding leader of the party," said senior BJP leader LK Advani. (Watch: Supreme Court decision a victory for Modi?) | (Watch: Will Modi become a national leader?)
"The BJP has always maintained that the allegations made against Narendra Modi in relation to the 2002 riots were absolutely false and that there is not a shred of evidence with regard to his involvement in any of the incidents connected with the unfortunate riots of 2002," said Arun Jaitley. (Read and watch: Not a shred of evidence against Modi: BJP)
Indeed, there seems to be confusion about whether the Supreme Court has given Mr Modi a breather. The Congress warned that the BJP has misread today's judgement. "The apex court has not given Mr. Modi any clean chit in any manner whatsoever, direct or indirect. They have sent the SIT report earlier given, and asked for a further SIT report. The amicus-curie Mr. Raju Ramachandran's report, the entire material, has to be sent to the magistrate for a de-novo, for a decision on the merits," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Zakia Jafri, however, feels justice has failed her. ''It breaks my heart. I cannot open my heart and show you how it feels,'' she said today. (Watch: Upset over Supreme Court judgement, says Zakia Jafri)
On February 28, 2002, her husband, former MP Ehsan Jafri, was trying to protect neighbours in Gulbaraga Society from an angry mob - the riots were engulfing different parts of the state, Gulbarga Society would later emerge as home to one of the most vicious outbursts of communal violence. Mr Jafri, his widow says, called several senior policemen and Mr Modi for help, but was ignored. He was set on fire; 69 other people were killed in the neighbourhood. (Timeline of Zakia Jafri's case against Modi)
In 2008, Mrs Jafri took her case to the Supreme Court, accusing Mr Modi and 61 other politicians, bureaucrats and policemen of colluding to ensure that no help was given to those being attacked in the riots. Mrs Jafri said today that she was bitterly disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. "We have no faith in Gujarat courts," she said, repeating a common allegation among activists that Mr Modi is unlikely to stand a fair trial in his home state.
In May this year, the Supreme Court asked senior advocate and amicus curae Raju Ramachandran to conduct extensive analysis and review of the evidence gathered by the SIT. Mr Ramachandran submitted his report in July - the report has been kept confidential, but allegedly disagrees with several conclusions of the SIT.
The Supreme Court has said that both reports should be presented to a trial court in Gujarat; and it is upto that court to decide whether there's enough evidence against Mr Modi to put him on trial. The three Supreme Court judges explained, "Once the investigation has been conducted and completed by the SIT... there is no course available in law... save and except to forward the final report to the (trial) court." They also specified, "Once a charge sheet is filed in the competent court, after completion of the investigation, the process of monitoring by the Supreme Court comes to an end."
"I can't comment on whether Modi has been given a breather. We will cooperate with the trial court," said RK Raghavan, who headed the SIT.
The integrity of the SIT has been questioned by a series of allegations of misconduct. Chief among them, the complaint by a senior police officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, that he attended a meeting called by Mr Modi where the Chief Minister asked senior policemen to let the rioters continue their attacks uninterrupted. Mr Bhatt has been suspended recently from the police force; he has filed his affidavit against Mr Modi in the Supreme Court. The SIT said that Mr Bhatt's testimony should not be considered; other police officers who were at the same meeting said Mr Bhatt was not present. However, Mr Ramachandran allegedly asks in his report for Mr Bhatt's statement to be considered by the trial court.