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Inquiry against Zaheera for perjury on April 19

A sessions court said it would hold an inquiry into false averments made by the prime witness in Best Bakery case.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 16:41 IST

A sessions court on Friday said it would hold an inquiry into false averments made by the prime witness in the Best Bakery case, Zaheera Sheikh, her mother Sahrunissa and sister Sahira.

The false assertions were made during the retrial even as the trio sought particulars on the basis of which they were to be tried on charges of giving false evidence.

Zaheera, undergoing one-year jail term imposed by the Supreme Court for contempt of court, was produced amid security while her mother and sister appeared before the court in response to notices issued against them for perjury (giving false evidence).

Hearing their plea, Judge Abhay Thipsay said the court would give them particulars of perjury charges on April 15 and posted the matter to April 19 as the trio sought time to prepare themselves for the inquiry to be held against them.

The judge observed, "it is very obvious that they have lied before the court. Zaheera has said she did not know whether she had lodged the FIR in this case. She had also denied knowing the accused and also said she was not aware whether she had moved the Supreme Court".

"All these statements made by Zaheera during the retrial in court shows that she had lied... No doubt she was a victim but I am sure she was tutored by someone. After making such statements she cannot escape perjury proceedings", the judge remarked.

Zaheera, Sahrunissa and Sahira heard the observations of the judge with apt attention but did not say a word.

The judge said, "if Zaheera wants to make any statement, I will consider it. However, there is no doubt that she has lied before this court".

Zaheera stepped into the witness box to say that she had a health problem and asked for medicine prescribed by the jail doctor not available in jail hospital.

Hearing Zaheera's plea, the court asked jail authorities to provide her medicine.

As the medicine was not available in jail, the judge asked the jailor to get them from the government hospital.

Zaheera had surrendered before a sessions court in Mumbai on March 10 two days after the Supreme Court held her guilty of contempt of court and sentenced her to one year imprisonment.

In the communal flare up in Gujarat following the Sabarmati Express train carnage, Best Bakery was set afire on March 1, 2002, by a violent crowd in Vadodara, killing 14 persons who had taken refuge in the premises.

Zaheera, who along with her family survived the bakery fire, had moved the apex court alleging that all the 21 accused in the case had been acquitted by the Gujarat court as she had turned hostile because of threats issued to her.

The apex court, on April 12, 2004, asked a Mumbai court to conduct the retrial so that the accused were given a fair trial outside Gujarat.

While ordering retrial, the apex court had quashed the lower court order acquitting 21 persons. Four of them were untraceable and 17 were brought to Mumbai for retrial.

The Mumbai court on February 24 had sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment and acquitted eight others due to lack of evidence.

The court also issued notices to Zaheera and her family members to show cause why action should not be taken against them for perjury.

First Published: Apr 07, 2006 16:41 IST