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SC to hear petition filed by Zaheera, NHRC

September01, 2003 11:40 IST
Last Updated: September01, 2003 13:47 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will hear the petition filed by the Best Bakery case key witness Zaheera Sheikh and the petition filed by National Human Rights Commission seeking transfer of the case along with four other Gujarat riot related cases for trial outside the state.

Zaheera had moved the apex Court seeking retrial of the case at any place outside Gujarat alleging that 'crucial evidence was shut out through threats and intimidation' given on behalf of accused.

Zaheera, who figures in the list of petitioners in the plea filed by NGO 'Citizens for Justice and Peace' headed by Teesta Setalvad, said the trial court verdict of June 27 should be set aside by the Supreme Court as there had been a serious miscarriage of justice.

The petition was mentioned by counel Aparna Bhatt before a bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare, Justice S B Sinha and Justice Arun Kumar when it was hearing the NHRC petition on the issue.

Referring to 37 of the 41 witnesses turning hostile, Zahira said, "The eye witnesses had not identified the perpetrators of the ghastly crime only because of threats, intimidation and hostile environment within the court as well as in Gujarat generally. A retrial is absolutely essential since fresh evidence, likely to throw new light on the case, is sought to be brought on record."

The Supreme Court had on August 8 issued notice to the state government on the NHRC petition and had asked it to provide adequate protection to the victims, witnesses in the cases and their relatives. It also converted the NHRC petition seeking retrial in the Best Bakery and some other cases outside Gujarat into a public interest litigation on improving the criminal justice system in India.

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