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Zaheera surrenders; sent to custody

The Supreme Court has slapped a 1-yr jail sentence for perjury on the prime witness in Best Bakery case.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2006 12:04 IST
Debasish Panigrahi & Gigil Varghese
Debasish Panigrahi & Gigil Varghese

Zaheera Sheikh is behind bars. The key Best Bakery case witness —  sentenced by the Supreme Court on Wednesday to a year in jail for contempt for her changing statements in the case — surrendered on Friday before a special court. She was sent to judicial custody till March 13 and will be lodged in the Bhoiwada lock-up till then.

This was the first time Zaheera surfaced in public after the special court had issued her a perjury notice on February 24.

Even as reports came in that a Vadodara police team was in Mumbai looking for her, Zaheera walked into court with her lawyer at 6.30 pm and surrendered before Judge Abhay Thipsay.

In court, Zaheera broke down and told public prosecutor Manjula Rao that she did not want to be sent to Gujarat to serve her sentence as she apprehended a danger to her life there. She also asked for protection.

Zaheera will be produced in the court on Monday when a decision on her request not to be taken to Gujarat will be taken up. The special court has asked for a copy of the SC order to help decide on her incarceration.

Zaheera insisted in court that she wanted to meet Judge Thipsay in his chamber since she trusted only him, sources said. However, this request was turned down and she was directed to give a written application instead. Based on the application, Judge Thipsay directed the Byculla police to give her protection.

Zaheera, it seems, had informed Rao of her desire to surrender. Rao passed on the message and Judge Thipsay stayed in court beyond working hours. Zaheera arrived with her younger brother and lawyer and was taken away in a police van at 9 p.m. amid heavy security and an escort.

Vadodara police commissioner Deepak Swaroop told HT that Zaheera had been staying at her Bhayander home all these days. He said they had kept a watch at the residences of all her relatives, thus reducing her options.

Incidentally, Zaheera is also facing perjury proceedings in the special court. Zaheera’s sister Sahira, mother Sehrunissa and brother Nasibullah were also issued show cause notices by Judge Thipsay asking why they should not be prosecuted for perjury. These notices are returnable by March 20.

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