January 15, 2004
High Court’s judgment on
Best Bakery case has heightened the tragedy of trial court into a farce
-- By Kirit Bhatt, Dr. J. S. Bandukwala, Rohit Prajapati and other
human rights activists of Gujarat
The comments of the Gujarat High Court Judgment on the Best Bakery case
have negated the process of justice by ridiculing those seeking justice
perhaps unprecedented in the history of Independent India.
If there was any hesitancy about the justification for demanding trial
of such cases outside Gujarat, then this judgment ought to remove the
last vestige of any such doubts. It is not possible to get justice from
the Government and the Police in Gujarat we knew. Now this judgment has
cast an indelible shadow on Gujarat’s criminal justice system too
in no uncertain terms.
At no stage has the verdict shown any concern or regret, let alone compassion,
on the heinous crime that was Best Bakery. Neither was there any sympathy
shown to the victims of this most brutal of all crimes.
Instead of condemning this unfortunate state of affairs, the Hon’ble
Court has chosen to transgress the limits of judicial propriety and fairness
by coming down heavily on those very activists - holding the cause of
justice at heart - as "anti-social and anti-national". Any right-minded
person or group would have lauded these activists for their enormous sense
of duty as fellow human beings and for acting so nobly at great risk to
The Court had further nothing to say about the questionable judgment
of the lower court, which apart from being a travesty of justice had contained
gratuitous remarks on issues of no relevance. The High Court verdict is
found to be totally unconcerned about its primary task at hand, that is,
the delivery of justice to victims of the Best Bakery tragedy.
An obvious effort to play to the gallery was the most unwarranted and
uncalled for remarks on those displaced and uprooted seeking justice in
the Narmada dam issue. These remarks were out of context and speak of
a deliberate effort to deviate from the task at hand, namely rendering
justice to the victims of the macabre and gory incident that was Best
from the Judgement
Some extracts from the judgement need no commentary from us but
some explanation from the Court may be required and from those who think
that this judgment is a fine piece of jurisprudence (numbers indicate
Para numbers from the judgment. The grammar and language are from the
There seems to be a definite design and conspiracy to malign the people
by misusing this witness Zahirabibi, who is hardly 19 years old. She
can easily fall in prey of anyone and play in the dirty hands of antisocial
and anti-national elements…
It appears that an attempt is made by the journalists/human rights activists
and advocate Teesta Setalvad and Mihir Desai respectively of the Citizens
for Justice and Peace to have parallel investigating agency whereas
the statutory authority is investigating any case is Police, CBI or
any other agency established under the statute. We do not know how far
it is proper. But we can certainly state that it is not permissible
under the law…."
elements failed elsewhere, at all levels, and to obstruct the development
and progress of the State, are trying to misuse the process of the law,
so far they have not fully succeeded. Some time back in the name of
environment, matter was filed before the Apex Court in Narmada matter,
which was dismissed by the Apex Court. However, because of ex-parte
and interim order, they were successful in causing huge loss, running
into thousands of crores of rupees to the State because of the delay
in the construction of the dam. Ultimately, such huge losses had to
be suffered by the people of the State for no fault of theirs. Gujarat
is very much part and parcel of our Nation and any loss to the State
means loss to the Nation.
Once again, almost similar attempt is made not only to cause indirect
financial loss to the State but to create rift between the two communities
and spread hatred in the people of the State. Financial loss can be
recovered at any time but it is very difficult to rebuild the confidence,
faith and harmony between people of the two communities. This times
none else but the judiciary of the State and the system as a whole,
which is really a matter of grave concern. Most unfortunate part it
is that, some people within the State and the Nation, without realising
the pros and cons of it, unnecessarily giving undue importance to such
elements, who are misusing poor persons like Zahira and others….
….. It is most unfortunate that attempt is made to create a false
impression not only in the other states but also in the world that the
Gujarat is a terrorist state, which is factually wrong…
…. It would be much better if wise people of both the communities
sit together, think it in a proper manner, and work out in the right
direction a plan, so that, in future, such riots do not take place.
Perhaps, Lok Adalat, may be the best medium to solve such problems forever.
It will not be out of context to state that one of us (B.J.Shethna,
J.) witnessed the settlement of almost similar problem at Surat in a
Lok Adalat held on 2.10.2003 on the birthday of the Father of our Nation,
Shri Mahatma Gandhi…."
It is anybody’s guess what is the disposition of the judiciary
of a secular country, which tries to suggest that those who attacked and
burnt Best Bakery could have saved some of them if they knew they were
Hindus. The following quote is eloquent.
When they were knowing that at least three Hindus working and staying
in the Best Bakery and told them that they were Hindus, then they would
not have killed at least those three persons of their own community…."
The Hon’ble Court has taken to task those dedicated activists who
were, and are, trying to ensure fairplay and justice, it however has nothing
to say on the terribly partisan role-played by the Police and the Government
of Gujarat. Also, it has acquitted those accused. Is it not then the duty
of the Court now to direct the Police to find the real culprits? Again,
instead of condemning the last eight pages of the uncalled for comments
from the trial court’s judgment at Vadodara, this judgment has added
further such absurd comments in what can be only termed as a distortion
and perversion of the judicial process. The judgement of the trial court
in Vadodara was received as a tragedy by those concerned with human rights
and justice. This High Court’s judgment, it is regretted, has heightened
the tragedy into a farce.
Dr. J. S. Bandukwala
(Human Rights Activists)
January 15, 2004, Vadodara, Gujarat
Rohit Prajapati / Trupti Shah
37, Patrakar Colony, Tandalja Road,
Post-Akota, Vadodara - 390 020
Phone No. PARYAVARAN SURAKSHA SAMITI (O) + 91-265-2412499 / (R) 2320399
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