Best Bakery case: justice at last
Court notices have been issued to Zahira Sheikh, her mother, sister Saira and brothers Nafitullah and Nasibullah, asking them to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for perjuryindia Updated: Feb 25, 2006 18:57 IST
Almost four years after a rampaging mob torched the Best Bakery in Vadodara during the post-Godhra riots and killed 14 people, a special court in Mumbai on Friday pronounced nine of the 21 accused guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Additional sessions judge A.M. Thipsay acquitted eight accused since the prosecution failed to prove its charges against them.
In June 2003, all the 21 accused had been set free by a Vadodara sessions court in the first trial for lack of evidence. Later, after the Gujarat HC upheld the lower court's verdict, the Supreme Court had ordered a retrial in Maharashtra. Seventeen of the 21 accused faced charges in the Mumbai retrial as the rest remain untraceable. Both the trial and the retrial were marked by witnesses turning hostile.
On Friday, the court issued notices to Zahira Sheikh and her family, asking them to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for perjury.
What turned the tables in the Mumbai retrial were the testimonies of five key eyewitnesses who were not examined in the Vadodara court.
Yasmin Bano, Zahira's sister-in-law, was the only member of the family to support the prosecution. Other eyewitnesses who were not examined in Vadodara but testified in Mumbai were the workers at the bakery who were injured in the attack.
In the retrial, the prosecution managed to procure convictions on the basis of the same charge-sheet that was filed before the Vadodara court.
The guilty were also awarded jail terms ranging from one to 10 years on various counts under IPC. The sentences will run concurrently.