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Citizens for Justice and Peace

cjpebuttal

08, May 2017


Mumbai,
April 14, 2009


CJPÂ’s
Rebuttal on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Proceedings, April 13, 2009

The report
in sections of the national media dated April 14, 2009, alleging that
NGOs, Teesta etc misled the apex court and exaggerated the violence in
Gujarat in 2002  are clear example of irresponsible reportage.
Intentionally or otherwise, the distorted report damages the reputation of
a citizensÂ’ group that has been recognized nationally and internationally
for working assiduously to ensure justice to the victims of mass violence
whether in case of the Gujarat carnage (2002), or the bomb blasts in
Mumbai (2006 and 2008) or the communal carnage in Kandhamal district,
Orissa (2008), irrespective of the caste or creed of the victims or the
perpetrators.

The fact is that neither Sri Raghavan, nor
any other SIT member was present at the apex court to “tell” it anything.
These reports could only be referring to a contention made in a four page
note circulated by Ms Hemantika Wahi for the Gujarat Government..
It was not a note prepared by SIT.

The
detailed report of SIT submitted to the Supreme Court on March 6, 2007 has
not been available for study either to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),
the petitioners in this case, or the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)
who have intervened in this critical matter or to any in the media. Any
reference to it is hence hearsay and it may amount to contempt of court to
write about a report which the Court has specifically not made public.

In
its written note that the Gujarat state circulated in court yesterday, the
state has given its brief comments on the SIT report. In para four
of this note the Gujarat government note refers to alleged statements made
by some witnesses in the Gulberg case before SIT that name accused other
than those named by them in the written statements that were (according to
the state of Gujarat) given to them by Teesta Setalvad and advocates. This
is the version of the Gujarat state. Besides this, Mukhul Rohatgi tried to
make a populaist speech in court saying that incidents like the Kauser
Bano case etc never happened.  The Supreme Court disregarded this argument
and did not allow Mr.Rohatgi to read anything from the report. The court
went on to state that they were not interested in personal allegations and
only ensuring that, like in the course of the Zahira Shaikh case, the
trials are fair, the truth comes out and the course of justice is served.

It is
necessary to recalled that in the course of the Best Bakery trial, too,
the Gujarat government had tried to divert the courtÂ’s attention by
engineering charges against Teesta Setalvad, secretary CJP and by
implication the NGO. On SetalvadÂ’s application to the apex court for a
full fledged inquiry the report of the Registrar of the apex court
exonerated Setalvad and the NGO completely.

As reported
by the rest of the national media, on Monday, ignoring Sri RohatgiÂ’s bid
to side-step the main issues, the three-member bench of the Supreme Court
remained focused on the modalities of setting up designated courts for the
trial of the accused in the post-Godhra riot cases in Gujarat. Instead of
highlighting the court proceedings, Sri Mahapatra chose to spice up his
report focusing not on the deliberations or the intentions of the apex
court but to promote the case of the Gujarat government.

The moot
question is whether or not 2,500 persons were killed in a ghastly
perpetrated massacre following the tragic burning alive of 59 persons on
the Sabarmati express; whether or not ex parliamentarian Ahsan Jafri was
mutilated before being burnt alive, whether the bodies of the missing dead
(over 220) have not been found or returned for dignified burial after
seven long years? All the national media was witness to this national
tragedy.

 In
the interests of fair reportage and to ensure that the reputation of a
citizens group committed to equity and justice is not deliberately
vitiated before the trials commence, the media should carry this rebuttal
in full. A failure to do so will result in the columns of a national
newspaper being used to distort facts, shape public perception and seek to
influence the outcome of due process of law and justice to the victims of
mass murder.

(Statement by Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, April 14,
2009, Mumbai)

We
wish also that the following issues

Pertinent issues ignored in these reports:

The arrests of minister Dr Maya Kodnani and Dr Jaideep Patel in the past
weeks were on the basis of SIT re-investigations. Twelve FIRs filed by
witnesses naming these accused in 2002 had been clubbed into a magnum
FIR by the Ahmedabad crime branch that had dropped the names of these
powerful accused;

The arrests of investigating officer KG Erda in the Gulberg case and of
other policemen in the other cases over the past months has meant the
claims of witness survivors and legal rights groups, prima facie, are
valid;

That this was one of the issues why the apex court has chosen to appoint
SIT, the full scale subversion of the process of justice, from the
removal of names of accused whoÂ’s names appeared in earlier statements
simply because they enjoyed political patronage; the appointment of
prosecutors with allegiances to the BJP and VHP which meant instead of
promoting fair trial they sided with the politically powerful and
protected accused;

More pertinently the tragic slaying of pregnant Kauser Bano at Naroda
Patiya after slitting her womb was reported  in Deccan Herald,(April
17, 2004) and The Indian Express, (March 23,2005) among others
apart from finding place in innumerable reports including the one
authored by the Concerned Citizens Tribunal-Crimes Against Humanity 2002
headed by two Supreme Court judges, Justices Krishna Iyer and PB Sawant.
Similarly the British national case was similarly documented apart from
being covered in The Pioneer, March 3, 2002 and The Hindu,
April 23, 2002.

Trustees:

Teesta Setalvad,        
I.M. Kadri,                 
Arvind Krishnaswamy,              Javed Akhtar,

Cyrus
Guzder,            Alyque Padamsee,     Anil Dharker,
                            Nandan Maluste,

Javed Anand,             Rahul
Bose,                 Cedric Prakash

 

 


 

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