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Quit if you cannot prosecute guilty: SC to Gujarat government

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | September 12, 2003 11:55 IST
Last Updated: September 12, 2003 13:15 IST

Hearing the petitions in the Best Bakery case, the Supreme Court on Friday said it did not trust the Gujarat government and prosecution to bring the rioters to book.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice V N Khare, Justice Brijesh Kumar and Justice S B Sinha, said: "What is the rajdharma of government? You quit if you cannot prosecute guilty. Democracy does not mean you will not prosecute anyone."

Ignoring repeated pleas of the government that it will amend its prayers and grounds in the appeal before the Gujarat high court, the apex court directed the state chief secretary and director general of police to appear before it on September 19.

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The court even suggested that the government could think of appointing an independent agency to investigate important riot cases.

Lambasting the government, the court asked, "Is this an appeal? Even a counsel with one-year experience will not draft such an appeal.

"It appears to us that it is an eyewash. It is just an eyewash and nothing else. We will not be silent spectators. We will act if the state keeps silent before the high court," it said.

The comments came when the counsel for the NHRC, P P Rao, pointed out how the appeal before the high court did not even seek a fresh trial in the case despite the trial court pointing out gaping holes in the prosecution story.

Of the 43 witnesses in the case, 37 had turned hostile resulting in the acquittal of all the 21 accused.

Criticising the manner in which the prosecution conducted itself in the trial proceedings, the court said, "There is no cross-examination as to why witnesses turned hostile and this shows the nature of the prosecution.

"We do not have any trust in your prosecution agency. There appears to be some collusion between government and prosecution and it is a case where 14 people were burnt alive."

The chief justice said, "What impression one will get if one sees this appeal filed in the high court."

Appearing for the state, Additional Solicitor General Mukul Rohtagi requested the court to adjourn the matter so that the government could amend the petition in the high court.

However, the court said, "The way you have conducted prosecution before the high court and the way you have filed the appeal, it appears to us that the same thing will be repeated..."

With Inputs from the Press Trust of India

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