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Case Summary : Best Bakery Case

DECIDED ON- 12 March 2004/ February 2012

BENCH- Hon’ble Judge Doraiswamy Raju and Arjit Pasayat.

Laws & Acts Applied in the case were – Section 195 A IPC, Section 15 of the Contempt of Court, Act, 1991, Article 129 of the constitution, Article 142(2) of the constitution,1949.

CASE INTRODUCTION-

This Case is Considered as one of the landmark case in Indian Judiciary System as it was the first case to be tried with respect to the Godhara riots. The best bakery case also termed as Tulsi Bakery case was one of the legal case which involved the burning of the best bakery, which was a small outlet in Varodara, Gujrat in Hanuman Tekri area on march 1 , 2002.

In this case , a mob targeted a sheikh family and resulted in death of 14 Muslims including 3 hindu employees who were running the bakery. All the accused who were nearby 21 were then acquitted by the court due to shoddy police work and issues with evidence.

This case symbolises the brutality of the carnage during the post Godhara riots, in which a near about 1200 people were killed.

The case deals with the contempt of court.

FACTS OF THE CASE-

  1. On 02.03.2002 , Best bakery at Vadodara was burnt down by a mob of large number of people. In this incident 14 people died. The attacks were stated to be a part of retaliatory action to avenge killing of 56 persons burnt to death in the Sabarmati Express.

In this case Zaheera named women was the main eye witness who lost family members including innocent children and helpless women in the incident. A day after the bakery was burnt the owners daughter Zaheera Sheikh lodged a police complaint against the 21 persons accused.

  • In this , Zaheera turned hostile , her mother and her brothers retracted their statements in the court. Zaheera said that she was on the terrace while the incident took place and couldn’t identify the accused.
  • Zaheera along with her mother told the Sunday express that she lied in the court because she feared for her life.
  • The NHRC filed a special leave petition in the supreme court  and asked for a retrial in a court outside Gujrat.
  • In a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court, Zaheera said she turned hostile because when she reached the court premises she met Chandrakant Batthoo, who threatened her . He told her that if she stuck to her earlier statements , the remaining four members of her family will be killed.
  • Supreme court  Division Bench ordered retrial of the Best Bakery case outside Gujrat in Maharashtra.
  • While transferring the case to Mumbai ,the supreme Court stated, “ The State of Gujrat shall also ensure that the witnesses are produced before the concerned court , whenever they are required to attend them, so that they can depose freely without any apprehension of threat or coercion from any person. In the case if any witness asks for any protection , then the state of Maharashtra shall also provide such protection as deemed necessary, in addition to the protection to be provided for by the state of Gujrat”.

JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE:-

  1. At the trial in Vadodara Session Court in June 2003, Court acquitted all the accused in lack of evidence and lack of confidence of the statement of witnesses including Main witness Zaheera Sheikh. Session Court held that there is no sufficient evidence that large number of peoples have done such act and carnage with full of intention and there is no prima facia evidence is available.
  2. Gujrat High Court has given judgement on appeal of State of Gujrat on 26th December 2003 and reasons were given on 12th January 2004. Gujrat High Court had denied Retrial of case and said that in accordance of power given in Cr.PC Court is satisfied that there is no further requirement of retrial. Court has also dismissed plea of National Human Right Commission on stay of proceeding that plea is pending with supreme court.
  3. On 12th April 2004 Supreme Court of India ordered for retrial, reinvestigation and transfer of Bakery case to Bombay High Court, the supreme court explain the case as “without Parallel and Comparison” and said that the fact of case for retrial is inevitable.

In February 2006, Session Court in Mumbai sentenced 9 accused had given life imprisonment.  After appeal in Bombay High Court by accused, Bombay High Court given judgement that 4 were given life imprisonment and 5 had acquitted by court.

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