Mumbai, Feb. 20. (PTI): The special sessions court here will deliver the verdict in the Best Bakery retrial on February 21, eighteen months after charges were framed in the case.
Fourteen people were killed on March 1, 2002 when a mob attacked the Best Bakery in Vadodara. This was one of the worst massacres of post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. After the Vadodara court acquitted all the 21 accused in the case, causing a consternation nation-wide, the National Human Rights Commission filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, requesting a retrial outside Gujarat. The Apex Court in April 2004 ordered retrial.
The trial shifted to the Additional Sessions Judge Abhay Thipsay’s court in Mumbai which framed charges on September 2004. Four of the 21 accused could not be retraced as the remaining 17 were re-arrested and brought to Mumbai for retrial. Public Prosecutor P R Vakil, who was appointed as the prosecutor in this case, passed away some days after the trial began and was replaced by Advocate Manjula Rao. The defence team was led by noted lawyer and former Rajya Sabha MP Adhik Shirodkar. Of the 75 witnesses, key prosecution witness Zaheera Shaikh turned hostile, alongwith her mother Sahrunissa, sister Saherabanu, brothers Nafitullah and Nasibullah.