08, May 2017
All India Catholic Union
Founded 1919, Registered under Societies Registration Act 1860.
Representing the Catholic Laity of India through 120 Diocesan, units
National President: Dr. John Dayal
National Vice President: Mr. Dolphy D’Souza Secretary General: Mr.
Treasurer: Mr. Eugene Gonsalves
AICU President’s address for correspondence;
505 Link, 18 IP Extn. Delhi 110092 India email:[email protected]
URGENT PRESS STATEMENT
11th November 2004
Church groups, NGOs demand Criminal Justice reforms
Solidarity with Teesta Setalvad and Human Rights activists in Gujarat
[The following is the text of a Resolution and Press Statement adopted at
meeting of Civil Society groups under the Chairmanship of Delhi Catholic
Archbishop Vincent Concessao. The meeting was held at the Justice and
Commission Centre. Those who spoke and signed the Resolution included
Archbishop Concessao, Dr John Dayal, President of the All India Catholic
Union and secretary-general, All India Christian Council, Sunil Sardar,
President, Satyashodhak Samaj, Jurists Jose Verghese, vice chancellor of
Justice Hidayatullah Law University of Chhatisgarh, Dr MP Joseph and Sr.
Mary Scaria, authors and advocates practicing in the Supreme Court,
Federation of Indian Women Secretary Anne Raja and Dr. Freddy D’Souza of
Justice and Peace Commission.]
“Human Rights Groups and Civil Society at large is aghast at the repeated
attempts to sabotage the process of justice for the victims of the
in Gujarat in 2002. Despite path-breaking intervention by the Honourable
Supreme Court of India in transferring the trial in the notorious
Best Bakery Case to Mumbai to ensure a fair trial, there seems t be a
patent conspiracy to alienate eyewitnesses, coerce activists and undermine
the historic work of voluntary agencies in the cause of justice.
We note the attempt to neutralise and demonise activists Ms. Teesta
and her colleagues who had so far succeeded in convincing the Supreme
of the grave miscarriage of justice by the High Court and trial courts in
Gujarat. They had also exposed the complicity of the police and the
political apparatus in the anti-Muslim violence of February-March 2002.
We express our solidarity with Ms. Setalvad, Mr. Rais Khan, Fr Cedric
Prakash and Mr. Samson Christian, among others, who have been working for
communal amity and against religious bigotry in Gujarat.
We note the mysterious circumstances in which the young woman Zaheera
Sheikh, an eye witness to the arson and murders at the Best Bakery, was
whisked away from Mumbai where she as to depose before the court, and
brought to Gujarat. Zaheera too remains a victim, who cannot be entrusted
the custody of the Gujarat police and administration. We call upon the
Supreme Court and the Central government that she be given adequate
The sorry episode speaks of serious lacunae in the criminal justice
That this is taking place in the backdrop of communal forces of the Sangh
Parivar adopting a more strident divisive agenda, adds to the gravity of
We demand of the Central government comprehensive and early legislation to
reform the criminal justice system. These reforms must include protection
of witnesses on the lines of existing international practices, and laws
against hate crimes. Above all, there must be a law to prevent repeated
communal violence which has debilitated this country and diverted national
focus, energies and resources from development and the abolition of
illiteracy and disease.
Signed by: Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Dr John Dayal, former CAT judge
Jose Verghese, Dr MP Raju, Dr Mary Scaria, Rev Sunil Sardar, Mr. Qamar
and Dr. Freddy D’Souza.
Released to the mew for publication by Dr. John Dayal.