Summary of the CJP’s activities between April 2002 and October 2003:
Relief and Rehabilitation:
Compared to most NGOs engaged in Relief and Rehabilitation work after the Gujarat violence, CJP’s own contribution can be said to be quite modest: approximately Rs.11 lakhs so far. But we are happy that because we dragged the Narendra Modi Government to the Gujarat High Court on this issue, the Gujarat Government was compelled, as a
result of court orders, to spend at least Rs. 10 crore on providing for food and other supplies to relief camps, something that the Modi government was adamant it would not do.
Concerned Citizens Tribunal:
CJP took the initiative in setting up a citizens’ tribunal headed by Justice VR Krishna, (retd Supreme Court) and two other retired Judges–one each of the Supreme Court and High Court– to conduct an independent probe into the violence in Godhra and the rest of Gujarat. Their 3-volume report titled ‘Crime Against Humanity,’ continues to be the most potent document till date on the Gujarat violence nationally and internationally. On its release from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, the findings and recommendations of the Tribunal received extensive print and electronic media coverage.
Best Bakery Case:
If the question of Justice and Peace in the context of the horrors of Gujarat has been brought centre-stage in the last three months, (though several legal initiatives were taken earlier) it has been due to the intervention of the Supreme Court of India in the (Best Bakery Case). For this, CJP can justly claim most of the credit. It was on the CJP’s assurance of support that Zahira Shaikh and her family moved to Mumbai (CJP has since been looking after all their
financial and security needs) and in early July, she told a hugely attended press conference why they were forced to lie before the court earlier and why they wanted a retrial of the Best Bakery Case outside Gujarat. The CJP secretary personally escorted Zahira Shaikh to Delhi for a full-bench hearing before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It was thereafter that the NHRC decided on its rare step of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court endorsing Zahira’s plea for a retrial outside Gujarat. Besides the NHRC, CJP and Zahira also filed a separate appeal in the SC, which has now been clubbed together with the NHRC petition. CJP’s two earlier petitions pending in the SC, on hate speech and need for transfer of investigation of the massacres to an independent agency are also to be heard now. The CJP has the moral and physical responsibility of taking care of the Shaikh family.
Godhra Families come to CJP:
On Dussera Day (October 5), 14 members from four Hindu families, each of whom had lost a woman from their family in the fire that consumed coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra last year, addressed a press conference in Mumbai after they sought CJP’s help in their struggle for justice for they felt totally cheated and betrayed by the very people in Gujarat who claim to be their protectors and who have raised huge amounts of money in their name. These Hindu families have also filed an impleadment application before the SC pleading that the Godhra case too must be heard outside Gujarat. Schooling and other needs of these families are also being borne by the CJP.
Gulberg Society, Chamanpura: This was one of the worst carnages where former member of parliament, Mr Ahsan Jaffri was brutally killed. CJP has been handing the criminal trial from the very start and it is because of CJP’s support that witnesses have not been cowed down, intimidated and broken. The public prosecutor appointed for this trial by the Gujarat government was a man charge-sheeted of burning alive nine Muslims! We are pressing for a transfer of this case outside Gujarat, too.
Other Criminal Trials: Due to CJP’s real sincerity and success in persevering in the struggle for justice, many eye-witnesses in cases that have either been ruinously finished or where trial has not started are approaching CJP for assistance. Naroda Pattiya, Kidiad, Pandharwada…
Compensation claim: In response to CJP’s Public Interest Litigation in the Gujarat High Court, the court has asked the Gujarat Government to give a full and proper account of the Rs.150 crore that was promised from the PM’s fund for the relief of Gujarat’s victims of violence. The Chief Secretary of Gujarat and three other Secretaries of the Gujarat Government have already held three meetings with the CJP Secretary following the court’s direction. Over the past month, volunteers team has been verifying our claims versus the CollectorÂ’s records. The hearing is on February 16, 2004.
Transfer Petition(s) Supreme Court:
Following CJP’s initiative in the BEST Bakery case and Zahira Shaikh’s appearance before the NHRC, the NHRC also filed a Transfer Petition in the SC praying for a transfer of 14 Major Carnage Trials out of Gujarat. This was in keeping with the NHRC’s findings in its pathbreaking report in 2002. The CJP has impleaded itself in this Transfer Petition and filed, directly in the SC, affidavits of major complainants, eyewitnesses that reveal starkly the state of subverted investigation and trials in Gujarat. The CJP has also filed along with Hindu victims of the S-6 coach burning and the relatives of illegal accused, a transfer petition in the Godhra matter.
Hate Speech and Hate Writing: The CJP has filed a petition under section 153a and 153 b of the IPC against te hate filled speeches of Gujarat CM, Mr. Narendra Modi and VHP President. Mr. Ashok Singhal. [The former had stated in August 2002 that “Relief Camps are Baby Making Factories;” and Singhal said that “Gujarat was a successful experiment…villages should be purged of Islam.”
Legal support and Aid:
The CJP is also supporting a team of local lawyers in Gujarat in an effort to make sure that information is collected in time for the SC and HC cases and also to ensure that none of the local processes within Gujarat are subverted.
Due to the respect that the work CJP done has earned, international students of law and human rights are offering themselves for eight week internships in Mumbai and Gujarat. Another student of the New York Law School is working with the Secretary, CJP on a research paper regarding the ‘role of the public prosecutor in India.’ All this will feed back into the litigation process that CJP is spearheading.
Team of Lawyers:
The CJP can rightfully be proud of the team of legal expertise and acumen that it commands. From Mr Aspi Chinoi [relief camp case, 2002], Mahesh Jethmalani [POTA case, Gujarat] in Mumbai to Mr Shanti Bhushan [BEST Bakery], Mr Anil Divan [CBI Inquiry plus Godhra transfer petition] and Mr Kapil Sibal [Transfer Petitions plus Hate Speech case], we can be truly proud of the senior counsel appearing for us pro bono.
CJP’s Major Success, BEST Bakery Trial Transferred
The resoundingly clear indictment of the Gujarat state by Justices Pasiath and Doraisamy Raju of the SC is not simply a huge success for the efforts that CJP has put in but it offers great succour tot he victims of Gujarat. More than anything
else, it will stand proud in the annals of the Indian Judiciary on issues of transfer of trial when communal violence and hatred permeates every rung of society and infects even the investigative machinery. At such times, this Judgement tells us an area of neutrality and distance is essential to ensure that justice is done. April 12, 2004 was a proud day
for the Indian Judiciary that did Indian Democracy proud.
It is for all this work to be sustained, that the CJP needs to generate the expenses that it needs. We appeal to you to support this initiative that is a unique citizens’ intervention to struggle for justice to the victims of mass crimes but in
so doing is also a valiant attempt to re-activate a stodgy legal system.
Donations to the Citizens for Justice and Peace [in that name] are exempt under section 80G of the Income Tax Act