Citizens for Justice and Peace

2002 Trials Struggle for Justice

23, Jul 2012


July 23, 2012

2002 Trials Struggle for Justice

The Citizens for
Justice welcomes the conviction of five persons who were convicted
to life imprisonment for the murder of two youth of the minority
community on November 2, 2003 in a post 2002 communal flare-up at
Viramgam near Ahmedabad. Twenty-eight other accused were acquitted.
CJP through its team of lawyers headed by MM Tirmizi has
relentlessly pursued this case having to seek redressal from the
Gujarat High Court on several occasions when the state of Gujarat
tried to subvert the process of justice. The judgement was delivered
by the fast track course on July 21.

Two persons Zakir
Sipahi and Farid Chandifali were attacked by members of a group
belonging to the majority community and died of bullet in juries
even as 26 others were injured and treated in hospital on November
2, 2003. A clash had occurred when a group of youngsters belonging
to the minority were attacked over playing cricket. Judge DR Patel
acquitted 19 Muslims, who were also booked in the case
following cross-complaints filed after the incident.

The local police
had initially police booked 33 Hindus and 19 Muslims after both the
groups lodged complaints against each other. At the completion of
the trial, the court found Purushottam Vasram and Chandu Vittal
guilty of firing from a .12 bore gun and sentenced them to life
imprisonment. They were also fined with Rs 7,500. Besides them,
Kumar Vitthal, Mahesh Patel and Nagar Jagjivan were also found
guilty of rioting and violence and also awarded life term and Rs
5,000 as fine.

In the eight and a half years since the incident, Victim Survivor
Suleman Daudbhai Sipai supported by CJP had to apply to the HIGH
Court of Gujarat on five occasions and await dispensation of justice
due to interminable delays caused by the dilatory tactics of the
Gujarat government. First, through Criminal Application No
1118/2003), we challenged the malafide role of the local police in
manipulating the investigation to protect the accused. The petition
annexed 25 affidavits of victim survivors and medical certificates
of the injured persons whoÂ’s statements by the police had been
recorded incorrectly. The High Court had, on December 17, 2003
directed that the Circle Police Inspector NB Sajankar handle the
investigations instead of PI Rathod against whom serious allegations
were made and substantiated.

Thereafter, after
another formal application for correction had been filed, another
Criminal Application 153/2004 was filed on 9.2.2004 on which the
High Court passed an order dated 15. 3.2004. In this Victim
Survivors supported by CJP had applied for a transfer of
investigation that lay with the Viramgam Police Station (Ahmedabad
Rural) to either the CBI, Ahmedabad City Crime Branch or the State
CID Crime. Since the Ahmedabad City Crime could not have
jurisdiction over Ahmedabad rural (Viramgam area), this prayer was
later modified. The reason for making this application was that
constant interference by the local MLA had rendered the earlier
order of transfer of investigation to the Circle Inspector
meaningless. Hence the prayer for transfer of investigation either
to the CBI or another branch of the State Police. There was
hostility to the Petitioners serving the earlier orders on the local

Victim survivors had also alleged that the local police was
deliberately thwarting the courtÂ’s order by not conducting any
further investigation especially ignoring the affidavits filed and
sent by the victim survivors including the petitioners. The charge
sheet had been filed by the police on 8.1.2004.Neither were
statements of injured witnesses have been recorded nor

injury certificates collected from the hospital by the investigating
officer. We submitted before the High Court that the FIR itself
mentions the name of one accused and the name of the said accused
has been safely removed from the entire offence by respondent no. 2
and 3 (state police and prosecution) merely because he is maternal
nephew of local M.L.A. Shri Vajubhai
Dodia of Viramgam. The Judgement of the High Court (Justice S. Dave)
held that “considering the fact that serious allegations of
investigation being conducted in partisan manner because of the
influence of local M.L.A. have been made, it would be in the
interest of justice to direct to entrust the investigation to City
Crimes. Accordingly, the investigation of the offence registered as
C.R.No.I 105/2003 with Viramgam Town Police Station be handed over
to the City Crimes, Ahmedabad. ”

on 19.8.2004, the Gujarat High Court passed an order on Criminal
Application No 3577/2004 filed by Suleman Daudbhai Sipai supported
by CJP praying for the cancellation of bail of accused
Maheshkumar D. Patel, Nagarbhai J. Mistry, Upendrakumar @ Bhano H.
Gajjar. Finally in this and another Criminal Application No
5773/2004 were disposed off together when the Gujarat High Court
refused to grant bail to the accused.

Even after this
exhaustive trajectory the government of Gujarat continued with its
attempts to subvert due process. In 2006, again we had to approach
the Gujarat High Court (Special Criminal Application 1056/2006) for
the appointment of a Special Public Prosecutor in Sessions Case No
15/04 (the Viramgam trial).  The petitioners had annexed a detailed
note of the affidavit of the victim stating that in cases where the
accused are from minority community the state government appoints
highly skilled lawyers with a particular ideology. The Supreme Court
of India has through well documented records been shown how public
prosecutors owing allegiance to the supremacist ideology of the
government in power in Gujarat have on several occasions, not
functioned with either independence or integrity but actually
ensured that  a robust prosecution is not effected and
that powerful accused are protected.

The High Court
issued notices to the respondent state government and ultimately the
state government appointed the Special Public Prosecutor, Labhubhai
Patel whoÂ’s name had been suggested by the victim survivors. The
matter was finally disposed of on 4.3.2008 after the government of
Gujarat was forced to cancel the appointment of the earlier
prosecutor chosen by them and appoint Labhubhai Patel. Towards the
end of the trial prosecutor Navin Rathod continued with the

The CJP would like
to record its deep respect for the grit and resolution of the Victim
Survivors and appreciate the role of its team of advocates in
Gujarat, headed by MM Tirmizi who have relentlessly pursued the
ideal of justice for the victims of 2002 and post 2002 communal

Trustees: Teesta
Setalvad Secretary,
IM Kadri (President) Nandan Maluste (Vice President)

Alyque Padamsee,
Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer), Anil Dharker, Cyrus Guzder, Javed
Anand, Javed Akhtar, Cedric Prakash, Ghulam Pesh Imam, Rahul Bose



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