Wednesday, July 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Best Bakery: miscarriage of justice

Apropos of the editorial “Justice must be done” (July 8), the acquittal of all the 21 accused in the Best Bakery case is a blot on the nation. It is a mockery of our criminal justice system. No one has been convicted for the brutal murder of 14 innocent people.

After the court verdict, it may not be proper to say that the accused have committed the heinous crime. But the fact is that 14 people have been killed. None of the eyewitnesses identified the accused, though named by the police. When the first witness turned hostile, he did not support the prosecution and refused to identify the accused. At that time, the prosecutor and the court should have taken measures to prevent the remaining witnesses from turning hostile.

The court, in particular, should have made arrangements for police security to the witnesses so that they were not influenced or pressurised by the high and the mighty. Had suficient care been taken, the judgement in the case would have been different.

The National Human Rights Commission, the People’s Union of Civil Liberties and several organisations have taken up the case. But there is no iota of evidence against the accused. Without evidence, how can the judge convict the accused?

However, a lesson to be learnt from this case is that the prosecution should never file cases on the basis of tutored and unreliable witnesses. Sometimes, cases are filed by the police on the basis of wrong statements of the witnesses. This does not serve the purpose as the ruling in the Best Bakery case has proved.




The editorial and Mr V. Gangadhar's article smack of blatant bias against the so-called Hindutva forces. The verdict of the court should be accepted with due respect.

I wonder what would have been the reaction of all the Nehruvian secularists had the verdict gone against the “alleged” culprits? I am sure, they would have hailed the ruling as a landmark judgement.

A.K. SHARMA, Chandigarh


The editorial headline "Justice must be done" was apt. It rightly observes that truth can come out only when the Best Bakery case is shifted from Gujarat to another court. Really, it was the end of justice when 21 accused were let off without any punishment. Pressure was mounted on the witnesses in such a way that 41 out of 73 witnesses turned hostile.

It would be better if the Chief Justice of India intervenes in the matter because the whole nation is shocked on the acquittal of all the accused. The judgement was a miscarriage of justice.



The plea for re-trial made in the editorial and a similar appeal by Zahira Sheikh, one of the eye-witnesses, are in the right direction, but the judgement besmirches the fair name of the rule of law in Gujarat.


Human welfare

Globalisation and technological advancement have impacted significantly the life style the world over, especially the increased life expectancy. As a consequence of economic reforms in India, with higher income growth in post-reform years, the incidence of poverty has declined sharply — from 44.5 per cent in 1983 to 26.1 per cent in 2001. However, it did not lead to a perceptible improvement in their living conditions as the states remained insensitive to basic welfare aspects.

Major states together have allocated just about 20 per cent of their aggregate budgetary expenditure to education, medicine and public healthcare and family welfare in 2002-03. Moreover, the share of education, healthcare and family welfare in the states' total expenditure declined from 2.8 per cent in 1999-2000 to 20 per cent in 2002-03. Money expended on jumbo cabinets and increasing overheads on avoidable wasteful expenditure leave little funds for welfare projects.

It is time state governments read the writing on the wall and strove hard to provide the benefits of globalisation to the teeming millions.


An irreparable loss

The death of M.R. Pai on July 3 in Mumbai is an irreparable loss to the consumer world. He educated people on how to fight for their rights against erring public institutions. His medium was the letters to the editor column, booklets and public meetings.

A concerned citizen, Pai was well informed. On any issue of public importance, he studied the subject thoroughly. He was courteous to all who approached him with their problems. He listened to them patiently and guided them. There was no letter unanswered by him and no phone call not taken. One admired his patience and his capacity to help people.

The booklet on “Depositors’ Rights and Customer Service in Banks” published by the All-India Bank Depositors’ Association will always be remembered. If there was a delay of 10 days, people can claim interest on the amount for the delayed period at savings bank interest rate. Accordingly, I did recover interest for the delayed period from the SBI, Mumbai.

M.R. Pai was an institution by himself. He meticulously built institutions like the Forum of Free Enterprise. Through this Forum, he organised lectures by Nani A. Palkhivala on the Union Budget from 1957 to 1994. Pai was Boswell to Nani. It is sad both of them passed away in quick succession.

M.A. RANE, Mumbai



Another Vaishno Devi shrine

Do you find it difficult to undertake the long journey to Vaishno Devi shrine in Kashmir? If so, why not visit its replica in Amritsar? Located at Lal Bhavan, Model Town, Rani Ka Bagh, and built in a small area of 80’ x 20’, it has become an important pilgrimage centre.

A brainchild of Mata Lal Devi, the Vaishno Devi cave in Amritsar was built in 1989 by Sant Suraj Prakash, general secretary of Pujya Mata Lal Devi Trust. The Pindis of Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and Mahalakshmi are duly placed and the miniatures of Deva Maiya, Charan Paduka, Ad Kuwari, Garab Joon, Shree Dharji temple and Bhairavji temple have been replicated.

According to Mr Yash Pal, trustee, during the Navratra festival in March-April and September-October, pilgrims flock in large numbers. Mataji was born on February 21, 1923 in Kasoor, Lahore (Pakistan). A brahmcharni, she lived on fruits and milk. After Partition, she came to Amritsar. No one should be deprived of visiting shrines and, that’s why, she spearheaded the replication of other shrines in Lal Bhavan. These included Tirupati Balaji, Shri Laddu Gopal, Meenakshi Devi, Puri Jagannath, Kanyakumari, Shri Rangamji, Sri Amarnath Dham, Sri Badrinath, Mandir Mata Chintpurni, Kedarnath, Pashupati Nath, Shri Rameswaram Dham, Shri Dwarka, Shri Laxmi Narayan and Sri Satya Narayan. She attained nirvana on January 9, 1994.

The Mata Lal Devi Trust is now managing the temple complex. The Mata Lal Devi Charitable Hospital is rendering valuable service, free of cost, to most of the people. The Trust also runs a langar daily. Similar shrines are managed in Hardwar, Ram Tirath and New Delhi.



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