HC raises compensation for injured in Bakery riot

Bombay High Court on Tuesday increased the compensation offered by the Gujarat government to four Best Bakery workers injured in the post-Godhra riots from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3 lakh.

The court, which upheld life sentences of four out of nine people awarded earlier by a Special Trial Court, held during the hearing of the case that the compensation for the four key witnesses is grossly inadequate given their “ordeal”.

“Hence we direct the Gujarat government to deposit a compensation for Rs 3 lakh each to the four eye-witnesses.” The four eye-witnesses are : Tufil Ahmed Siddiqui, Raess Khan, Shahzad Khan Pathan and Shailun Khan Pathan.The court also dismissed applications filed by one hostile witness, Yasmeen Shaikh, who had sought re-recording of her evidence as “she had been tutored and misguided by social activist Teesta Setalvad to give false evidence against the accused.”

The court, while ordering the Rs 3 lakh compensation to Shaikh, remarked in its dismissal of her petition: “Yasmeen's evidence is not trustworthy and there is no need for any further enquiries.”The court also observed in its ruling that it was time to chalk out a witness protection programme.

“Several witnesses during the hearing in this matter turned hostile in the case. Thus it is extremely important that protection of witnesses be taken as that of paramount importance,” it observed.

“These programmes should be undertaken by the state government itself and not by non-government organisations or private parties so that nobody can raise fingers at witnesses being tutored.”The court also came down heavily on the media, asking news organisations to be sensitive and not to go overboard while reporting matters relating to communal tensions.

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