VIII. INDICTMENTS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF GUJARAT

JUDICIAL CONDEMNATION

The Best Bakery and Bilkees Bano judgments:

While transferring the Best Bakery case from Gujarat to Maharashtra, the Supreme Court made a number of significant observations with regards to the involvement and attempt to subvert the justice process by the Gujarat government. Speaking for the bench, Pasayat J identified serious deficiencies in the manner the case had been investigated and also the manner in which the proceedings in that case had been conducted in the trial court and in the High Court.  He held: “the role of the Public Prosecutor was also not in line with what is expected of him.  Though a Public Prosecutor is not supposed to be a persecutor, yet the minimum that was required to be done to fairly represent the case of the prosecution was not done.” (para 71, page 200)

He also held that “it was apparent that the conduct of the investigating agency and the prosecutor was not bona fide” (para 72, page 200) and that “some of the findings of the High Court were nothing but a wishful conclusion based on presumption” (para 73, page 201) He concluded that: The High Court appears to have miserably failed to maintain the required judicial balance and sobriety in making unwarranted references to personalities and their legitimate moves before competent courts – the highest court of the nation, despite knowing fully well that it could not deal with such aspects or matters.” (para 83, page 204)

It was in those circumstances that the Supreme Court directed that the retrial ordered by it would be done by a court under the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court. The judgment of the Mumbai fast track trial court in the Best Bakery case sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment and also indicted senior police officials in Gujarat for their conduct during the trial, which amounted to suppression of evidence. These include the then CP, Vadodara, Deepak Swaroop, the IG (intelligence), K. Kumarswami and PI Pargi, who recorded doctored statements from the hostile witnesses while they were state guests of the Gujarat government.  

To view the complete judgment click here.

The Bilkees Bano case was also transferred from Gujarat to Bombay. In the judgment pronounced by the Mumbai fast track court a total of 12 people were convicted, 11 of them being sentenced to life imprisonment. These included three officers of the Gujarat police who were convicted for suppression of evidence. Speaking to the press after the judgment was read; Bilkees Bano said that she was still not safe in Gujarat.