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Best Bakery Case

Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. State of Gujarat

BEST BAKERY CASE


Decided On: 12.04.2004 Appellants: Zahira Habibulla H. Sheikh and Anr. Respondent: State of Gujarat and Ors. Hon'ble Judges: Doraiswamy Raju and Arijit Pasayat, JJ. Subject: Criminal

BEST BAKERY CASE


March 1, 2002 Communal frenzy envelops Vadodara and 14 people are killed in Best Bakery in the Hanuman Tekri locality. Zaheera Sheikh loses nine family members, emerges as the star witness. March 2, 2002 Zaheera files an FIR and names the accused. Describes how the mob came towards the house shouting kill the Muslims, burn the bakery.

BEST BAKERY CASE


May 17, 2003 In a dramatic turnaround, Zaheera turns hostile. She claims she did not see anything because a mob of 1,500 persons had come and they were hiding in fear. June 27, 2003 The fast-track Vadodara court acquits all the 21 accused

BEST BAKERY CASE


"the lack of government commitment to ensuring justice to victims of the communal violence in Gujarat.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

"miscarriage of justice"
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

"no confidence" in the Gujarat government.


V.N KHARE,CHIEF JUSTICE OF SUPREME COURT

"It was proved beyond doubt that a violent mob had attacked the bakery and killed 12 persons. However, there was no legally acceptable evidence to prove that any of the accused presented before the court had committed the crime." ABHAY THIPSE j

BEST BAKERY CASE


July 7, 2003 The Citizens for Justice and Peace headed by Teesta Setalvad holds a press conference for Zaheera in Mumbai. July 11, 2003

Zaheera testifies before a full bench of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) saying she was forced to retract her statements.

BEST BAKERY CASE


August 1, 2003 The NHRC files a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court (SC). Asks for a retrial in a court outside Gujarat September 8, 2003 In her affidavit to the SC, Zaheera says she turned hostile because Chandrakant Batthoo, Madhu Srivastavas cousin, threatened to kill the remaining four of her family.

BEST BAKERY CASE


April 12, 2004 The SC orders a retrial of the Best Bakery case in Maharashtra. November 3, 2004 In yet another stunning volte-face, Zaheera turns hostile again and tells the Vadodara collector that she was being pressured and threatened by Teesta Setalvad.

BEST BAKERY CASE


December 6, 2004 The SC asks Zaheera whether her disclosure amounted to her having filed a false affidavit to the apex court. Wants to know by January whether it amounts to contempt of court. January 1, 2005

Tehelka stings Vadodara MLA Madhu Srivastava and his cousin Batthoo saying they paid her Rs 18 lakh to change her testimony

ZAHEERA

TEESTA

BEST BAKERY CASE


. January 10, 2005 The SC directs Registrar General BM Gupta to conduct a probe into the basis of Zaheeras statements and the affidavits filed by Setalvad in the apex court August 24, 2005 The SC committee submits its report, calling Zaheera a self-condemned liar who had fallen to inducements to give inconsistent statements. It gives a clean chit to Setalvad

BEST BAKERY CASE


. February 24, 2006 A Mumbai sessions court convicts and gives life imprisonment to nine of the 17 accused facing trial. It also issues notices to Zaheera and her family for tendering false evidence.

RELAVANCE OF THE CASE

Witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice. BENTHAM

HOSTILE WITNESS
HOSTILE WITNESS Is not desirous of teeling the truth Gained over by the opposite party

A witnesss primary allegiance is to the truth and not to the party calling him.
Unfavourable testimony doesnot declare a witness hostile

Effect of the testimony of hostile witness


EARLIER POSITION Testimony is completely rejected

PRESENT POSITION Not completely rejected Accept the part of it which the judge finds as creditworthy

The issue is..


Why do the witness turn hostile
which lead to the acquittal in heinous crimes???

What can be done


to eradicate this malaise???

Why the witness turn hostile??


threats, coercion, lures and monetary considerations
at the instance of those in power, their henchmen and hirelings, political clouts and patronage and innumerable other corrupt practices

Why witness turn hostile?


Delay in trials by adjournments fear of harassment by the police

The state has an important role in protecting the witness

THE COURT MUST.


the Presiding Judge must
cease to be a spectator and a mere recording machine a participant in the trial evincing intelligence active interest and elicit all relevant materials

TWO ASPECTS OF WITNESS PROTECTION


evidence of witnesses that has already been recorded during the investigation is not allowed to be destroyed by witness physical and mental vulnerability of the witness and to the taking care of his or her welfare

RECCOMENDATIONS OF LAW COMMISSION


procedure for granting anonymity to witness and also
introducing Witness Protection Programmes as well in which personal protection is granted to the witness

LEGISLATIVE MEASURES
Section 195 A of Indian Penal Code

Threatening to give false evidence


Imprisonment upto 7 years , fine or both

If an innocent is convicted
The same punishment as the innocent punished

I CONCLUDE.
"Padodharmasya Kartaram Padah sakshinomruchhati Padah sabhasadah sarban pado rajanmruchhati
(In the adharma flowing from wrong decision in a Court of law, one fourth each is attributed to the person committing the adharma, witness, the judges and the ruler".) MANUSMRITI