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Best Bakery case adjourned to July 17
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 21
With legal representatives of Maharashtra and Gujarat continuing their wrangles before a special court, the trial of the Best Bakery case has now been adjourned to July 17.

When the matter came up for hearing today, Mr Atul Mehta and Mr T. S. Nanavati appeared on behalf of the Gujarat Government and said they had been appointed prosecutors by the state. They also informed that Gujarat would consider appointing Manjula Rao as special public prosecutor. However, Maharashtra Government’s counsel informed that the state had come out with a notification on June 18 appointing a team of prosecutors in this case, namely P. R. Vakil, Manjula Rao, Zaheeruddin Sheikh and S M Vora.

With both governments unable to agree on the prosecutor, the trial court adjourned the matter to July 17. The court further warned that the matter may be referred to the Supreme Court if the two governments were unable to resolve the impasse by July 5.

The re-trial is being held on the orders of the Supreme Court which also specified that it should be held outside Gujarat after some witnesses complained of harassment and intimidation by Hindu extremist groups and the police in Gujarat.

The Maharashtra Government has already organised elaborate security arrangements for the protection of witnesses. They have also been offered free stay in the city. The state police will not ask the Gujarat police to reimburse the cost for the security, as is the norm, Maharashtra’s Home Minister R. R. Patil said here recently.

The Best bakery case deals with the murder of 14 persons who were killed in the anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat more than two years ago. All victims were burned to death when the bakery was set on fire by a mob. A fast track court appointed by the Gujarat court acquitted 21 accused in the case after all witnesses in the case turned hostile. Later, Zahira Sheikh, the prime witness claimed that she had been threatened and forced to turn hostile in the case.

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