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Best Bakery: SC for change in public prosecutor
August 09, 2004 16:13 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday castigated the Gujarat-appointed public prosecutor for opposing issuance of arrest warrants against the accused in the Best Bakery case trial before a Mumbai court and observed that such a person should not continue in the post.
Asking the Director General of Gujarat Police to inform the court within a week the steps taken to apprehend the accused and produce them before the trial court, a bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat posted for August 16, hearing on an application seeking clarification on the appointment of public prosecutor in the case.
The case was transferred to a Mumbai court from Gujarat by the Supreme Court, which had severely criticised the Narendra Modi government of showing indifference to the victims of the incident in which 14 people in the Bakery at Vadodra was burnt alive.
Zahira Sheikh, who survived the carnage during the post-Godhra riots, through NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace told the court about the gory details of the incident.
Right at the beginning, the bench observed: "The trial court wanted to issue non-bailable arrest warrants against those accused who were not present but the public prosecutor opposed it saying the State was taking steps to arrest them. What type of PP is he who opposes issuance of arrest warrants against the accused? You are showing your true colours from the first day."
On the appointment of public prosecutors, the court advised the Gujarat government not to have 'any ego problem' to agree to one of the four lawyers suggested by the victims.
The bench lamented that the trial has not begun yet despite the court fixing the dealine of December 31 for completion of procedings before the Mumbai court.
Censuring the Gujarat government as modern day 'Neros' looking elsewhere when innocent children and helpless women were burning, the Supreme Court on April 12 had issued an unprecedented order quashing the acquittal of all 21 accused in the infamous Best Bakery case and directed its retrial in a Maharashtra court.
When Gujarat was engulfed with communal riots in the aftermath of the burning of Sabarmati Express at Godhra on February 27, 2002, a mob set fire to Best Bakery at Vadodra on March 1 resulting in the death of 14 people.
Zahira, an eye-witness to the incident, lost her family in this. Lambasting the Gujarat government for its laxity in bringing the guilty to book, the Supreme Court said, "The modern day 'Neros' was looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning."
The court, while directing the Gujarat government to appoint a new Public Prosecutor, had directed the Director General of Police to oversee further probe and ordered the trial be conducted on a day-to-day basis.
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