Supreme Court Orders Retrial of Gujurat Riot Case

April 12, 2004

Source: AlertNet

On April 12, 2004 AlertNet posted a Reuters article that reported, "India's highest court ordered on Monday a retrial of a high-profile murder case after 20 Hindus were acquitted of slaying 12 people during 2002 religious riots. The Supreme Court ordered the Hindu nationalist government of the state of Gujarat to take up the issue of a retrial, through state prosecutors. In a rare move, it also ordered the new trial be moved from Gujarat to neighbouring Maharashtra state. 'This judgement is a victory for justice, secularism and the Indian constitution,' said Mihir Desai, a lawyer for survivor and chief witness Zahira Sheikh, 20. The Best Bakery case, named after the shop where the killings happened, has come to symbolise the lack of major progress in bringing to account those responsible for the riots in which rights groups say about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed. The riots broke out after 59 Hindu pilgrims were burned to death in an attack on a train. Sheikh had appealed to the Supreme Court for a retrial outside Gujarat after saying she had been intimidated into changing her testimony in the original case. 'This is a historic judgement. Retrials are very rare in India. And it's even rarer for a trial to be transferred on the basis of a statement by one witness,' another of her lawyers, Aparna Bhat, said."