BEST BAKERY CASE: DATELINE
New Delhi: The Supreme Court issues notice to 11 persons, including Gujarat BJP MLA Madhu Srivastava, referred to in the report submitted by the committee that probed the veracity of the statements made by Zahira Sheikh, key
witness in the Best Bakery case.
August 27, 2005:
SC enquiry committee
headed by Supreme Court Registrar-General B.M. Gupta
submits its report. The
same is released by the SC on August 29. The report gives a clean chit
to Teesta/CJP, calls Zahira Sheikh “a
self-condemned liar whose statements alone cannot be safely accepted”
that she and her family were
likely to have been induced to turn hostile in the case.
Needle of suspicion
points to BJP MLA Madhu Srivastava.
January 10, 2005: Supreme Court appoints a committee headed by the
Registrar of the apex court and to be assisted by a senior IPS official
in response to TeestaÂ’s November 6, 2004 application for a high level probe into ZahiraÂ’s fresh turnaround.
December 22, 2004: Tehelka publishes the outcome of its sting
operation with BJP MLA from Vadodara and others shown revealing they
paid Zahira Shaikh and her family Rs. 18 lakhs to recant before the
November 10, 2004: In a move to foil any attempt by the
police to arrest her, Teesta moves Mumbai High Court for anticipatory
bail. The same is granted.
November 6, 2004: Teesta Setalvad files an application in the
Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into why the prime witness in the case
has changed her testimony. She questions Zaheera Sheikh’s change in
testimony and asks for a thorough probe by CBI into the about turn made
by the witness.
November 4, 2004: Zahira, who has been moved to Ahmedabad under
heavy security cover provided by the Gujarat government, fails to appear
before Judge ThipsayÂ’s court in Mumbai.
November 3, 2004: Key eyewitness Zahira Sheikh, retracts her statements yet again.
At a press conference held in Vadodara, just a day before she was
summoned to appear before Judge Thipsay in the Mumbai court, and with
the full backing of the
administration and police, she claims she was forced to level false
charges against the 21 accused as there was a “threat to her life.” She
accuses the Teesta Setalvad, secretary CJP and her “accomplices” of
having “kidnapped” her and her brother from Vadodara. Alleges they were
taken to Mumbai “at the edge of a knife” and kept in “solitary
confinement” for seven months.
am shocked but not defeated,Â” says
Teesta denying all the allegations as totally baseless.
October 27, 2004:
First prosecution witness deposes before special trial court, Mumbai.
October 4, 2004:
September 22, 2004; Charges Framed in Judge ThipsayÂ’s Court, Sewri, Mumbai.
September 9, 2004:
Nafitullah shaikh record statement on Threats and
Intimidation before Vadodara Police
Supreme Court Division bench judgement comprising of
Justice Doraiswamy Raju & Justice Arijit Pasayat order retrial of Best
Bakery case outside
Maharashtra. Remarks against Teesta Setalvad passed by Gujarat High Court
Â· March 23,-24 2004, Arguments on Special
Leave Petition in an appeal against High Court order filed by witness and
Citizens for Justice and Peace
Â· Zahira Shaikh records statement on Threats and
Intimidation in Vadodara before Mumbai Police.
The detailed reasoning of the Judges were detailed in a
90 page judgement jusytifying the acquittal. The bench comprising of
Justice BJ Sethna and Justice JR Vora observed that a retrial could not
be ordered because the prosecution had failed to produce proper evidence.
It pointed out that deputy commissioner of police and investigating
officers had failed to discharge their duties since they did not record
key witness ZahiraÂ’s FIR at the place of incident. Referring to the
submission by Advocate General SN Sehlat that most witnesses turned
hostile under threat, the bench observed that Â“there may be more than one
reason for the witnesses from resiling from their so called statements
made before the police and that there is nothing to show that the
witnesses ever made the so-called statements.Â” Moreover the Judges also
passed specific remarks against Teesta Setalvad for carrying out a
Â– The appeal by the
government challenging the acquittal of the accused by the trial court was
dismissed by the Gujarat High Court.
Supreme Court stays all pending major trials including
17, 2003. Two affidavits were filed by Teesta Setalvad of the NGO
Citizens for Justice and Peace before the Supreme Court. These pointed out
the need for retrial and for shifting the trial outside the state. Senior
Council Shanti Bhushan appeared on behalf of the citizens group. NGO. The
astounding facts about riot stricken
contained in the affidavits made Harish Salve point these out to the
October 9, 2003
Â– During the hearing on October 9, the SC appointed senior counsel and
former solicitor general of
Harish Salve, as amicus curae to assist the court on the points
that had arisen in the case.
8, 2003. Zahira Shaikh and the Citizens for Justice and Peace
also file an SLP accompanied by affidavits of key witnesses recording the
facts that is listed along with the NHRCÂ’s SLP.
-A day before the Supreme Court was to hear the NHRCÂ’S
Gujarat state government (prodded by the Supreme
Court), filed an appeal before the Gujarat High Court challenging the
acquittal of the accused. The appeal did not ask for re-trial.
1, 2003Â–The National Human Rights Commission filed a Special Leave
Petition (SLP) under Article 136 of the Constitution of India in the
Supreme Court. The NHRC requested the SC to set aside the judgment of the
trial court and for further investigation of the case by an independent
agency. Also a re-trial of the case in a court located outside the State
Â– Zahira gave a statement on oath before a full bench of
the NHRC in the presence of Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, CJP about how she
was forced to retract her statements in court. She named those who had
threatened her and her family to pressure her to retract her statement.
CJP holds press conference for Zahira in Mumbai. About a
month and a half after she turned hostile in court, Zahira and her family
approached the CitizenÂ’s for Justice and Peace, a citizens group committed
tot he lagal battle for justice to victims of mass crimes n NGO in Mumbai
for legal aid to ask for a re-trial.
Additional sessions judge H U Mahida of the Vadodara fast track court
acquitted all the 21 accused in the case who were named by key witness
Zahira Sheikh in her statements before the police, the NHRC and the
Concerned Citizens Tribunal Â– Crimes Against Humanity, 2002.
Â– Zahira turned hostile under pressure. The same day her
mother Sherunissa and younger brother Naseebullah also depose and also
deny facts. She allegedly received threats from various sources including
a local scrap dealer Lal Mohammed who was also a witness in the case and
later retracted his statement. On the day of ZahiraÂ’s court appearance the
local BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastava was present in the court accompanied her
to court. This is perceived as a tactic of intimidation.
May 7, 2003. Brother of Zahira, Nafitullah and sister Saira retract
their statements in court.
Zahira recorded a statement at the site of the incident
and thereafter continued at the hospital where the injured had been
admitted filed an FIR before the police on
2003 naming the accused. She also made a full statement before the
chairperson of the NHRC when they visited
Gujarat after the riots on March 22 21, 2003.
Â· Fifty-year-old Sehrunissa Sheikh, wife of the bakery
owner Nafitullah Habibullah Shaikh eldest son of bakery owner Habibullah
Shaikh and 18 year old Zahira Sheikh, her daughter, were the key
witnesses. When the occupants of the building called the police for help a
police van arrived about an hour and half later. But it drove past the
bakery and did nothing to stop the mob.A policeman got off the van and
even incited the mob.The attack intensified after the police van left.
ZahiraÂ’s sister Shabira, her mama, and 12 others including four
small children of the neighbourswho had taken shelter there. mamaÂ’s
twins were burnt alive by the mob. Two of her brothers were burnt alive,
Two of her brothers others were tied up and torched but survived the
attack. Her chachaÂ’s entire family was killed. Two bodies could not
be found. The stomachs of the three Hindu workers were slit. Two Nine of
the 14 people killed in the massacre belonged to the Sheikh family.
March 1, 2002 Â– Two days after the Godhra carnage, a mob
attacked Best Bakery in the Hanuman Tekri
area of Vadodara. Hanuman Tekri is a poor, lower middle-class
neighbourhood. Predominantly Hindu, very few Muslim families live here.
The mob looted and burnt the bakery, killing 14 people in a period of 12
hours. The mob targeted the Muslims inside including the Sheikh family
which ran the bakery. Three Hindu workers who worked at the bakery were