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Best Bakery case: Gujarat opposes retrial
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 21
The Gujarat Government today told the Supreme Court that it had moved an application for modification of judgement in the Best Bakery case by opposing its transfer for re-trial in Maharashtra and for expunging certain “adverse” observations against the state government.

Gujarat Government counsel Mukul Rohtagi told a Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr V N Khare during the hearing of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) petition for transfer of 12 major riot cases outside the state, that the application for modification of the Best Bakery case judgement was filed two days ago in court registry.

The state’s counsel sought adjournment of the hearing on NHRC’s transfer petition till the modification application was heard by the Bench which had passed the verdict in the case on April 12 and ordered its re-trial in Maharashtra.

The Gujarat Government said it had no objection to retrial of the case, but it should be held by the same Sessions Court at Vadodara which had heard it earlier or any other court in the state by adducing additional evidence.

The state government also sought expunging of the observation by the court in which persons who mattered in the state administration were described as “modern day Neros”.

The transfer of the case for re-trial to Maharashtra was opposed on the ground that the entire focus of arguments in the Best Bakery appeals by the government and complainant Zahir Sheikh was for adducing additional evidence under Section 391 of Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 165 of Indian Evidence Act but the court had gone beyond this.

“Even the prayers in the state and Zahira’s appeals were similar and there was no specific plea for re-trial outside Gujarat,” the state government said.

The Bench comprising, Mr Justice S B Sinha and Mr Justice S H Kapadia, meanwhile, issued fresh notices on NHRC’s petition to the accused persons in all 12 cases sought to be transferred outside Gujarat as notices were not served to many of the accused.

Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for the accused said any direction without notice to them would be against the principle of natural justice.

The court also issued notices to all states and Union Territories for submitting “draft proposals” by July 12 on providing protection to witnesses in such sensitive cases in future.

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