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Gujarat asked to appeal Best acquittals

Our Legal Correspondent
NEW DELHI, Feb. 16. — The Supreme Court (coram, Khare, CJ, Lakshmanan, Kapadia, JJ) today directed the Gujarat government to file an appeal against the state High Court order acquitting all 21 accused in the Best Bakery case. “File it by tomorrow,” the court told the Additional Solicitor General, Mr Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for Gujarat.

Initially, the court wanted the state government to file the appeal today but granted more time after Mr Rohtagi sought it. Gujarat High Court had in its order of 26 December, 2003 upheld the trial court order acquitting all the accused in the case in which 14 people were burnt alive. The High Court has already been challenged before the apex court by key witness in the case Zahira Sheikh. But the state is yet to appeal the order. At the last hearing on 30 January, the state had assured the apex court that it would file an appeal in two weeks’ time.

The apex court also directed the state to file an affidavit on all post-Godhra cases in which the bail has been granted to the accused and whether the state has appealed these bail orders in the superior courts. Notices were issued on a petition, filed by the Citizens of Justice and Peace, seeking transfer of the Godhra case for trial outside the state. The petition has been filed both on behalf of the victims as well as relatives of the accused. However, Mr Rohtagi contested the transfer plea stating that this case was very different from all other post-Godhra cases that figure in the transfer petition of the NHRC.

Sarabhai curbs
NEW DELHI, Feb. 16. — The Supreme Court today expressed serious concern over restrictions imposed on noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and told Gujarat Government to “see that these restrictions are removed by February 23”. These observations came from a Bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare, Justice AR Lakshmanan and Justice S H Kapadia during hearing on a petition seeking transfer of post-Godhra riot cases outside Gujarat. — PTI

The Statesman