Four held guilty in Best Bakery case

Four held guilty in Best Bakery case

Bombay HC acquits five for lack of evidence

Four held guilty in Best Bakery case

The Bombay High Court, hearing the 2002 Best Bakery case, on Monday upheld the life sentence awarded by the special trial court to four accused but acquitted five others.

Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode, while delivering the judgment, took cognisance of the statements made by four BEST Bakery workers who had identified the accused — Sanjay Thakkar, Bahadur Singh Chauhan, Sanabhai Baria and Dinesh Rajbhar — as the key attackers in the BEST Bakery, during post-Godhra riots.

However, in the case of the other five accused also convicted by the special trial court, the High Court judges overruled it stating that none of the four key witnesses in their deposition made any substantial accusation against them and “there was no evidence against them.”

Rajubhai Baria, Pankaj Gosavi, Jagdish Rajput, Suresh alias Devjibhai Vasava and Shailesh Tadvi were acquitted by the High Court.

It maybe recalled that on March 1, 2002, a marauding mob had killed 14 people, who had sought refuge in the Best Bakery on Hanuman Tekdi in Gujarat’s Vadodara city two days after the Godhra murders.

Investigations into the bakery massacre led to the arrest and subsequent chargesheeting of 17 people. Of these nine who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the special trial court in 2006, moved the High Court challenging the sentence.

In March, this year the division bench commenced day-to-day hearing of the appeals filed by the nine convicted accused. Incidentally, one of the key witnesses Yasmeen Shaikh had earlier filed a petition in the High Court alleging that she was “lured and misguided” by social activist Teesta Setalvad for making false statements against the 17 accused.

During the appeal stage, Shaikh requested the court that her evidence be recorded again. The court, however, stated that it would first hear and decide on the appeals filed by the convicts.
Even as the hearings were in progress, Setalvad also filed an intervening application requesting the court to take cognisance of her views while deciding the appeals. The court, however, deferred both requests stating it will pronounce its order on the two applications later.

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