Saturday, February 25, 2006  02:37 IST

While much of the credit for the landmark judgment in the Best Bakery retrial will go to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), one person who stood her ground to ensure justice to the victims of the Gujarat riots despite allegations from all quarters is activist Teesta Setalvad. DNA’s Presley Thomas spoke to her about the judgment.
What ramifications will the Best Bakery retrial judgment have on the Gujarat government as a whole and on the remaining 12 riot cases that have been stalled by the Supreme Court.
 
While the landmark judgment in the Best Bakery retrial has set many precedents, including that of a case being tried outside the state where the crime happened, the ramifications can be assessed only after a month’s time. 
This is because special court of Judge Abhay Thipsay will take at least a month to give a detailed judgment copy. However, this will put a question mark on the Gujarat government for the unhealthy manner in which it reacted to various situations during the course of the trial. Especially, the indirect comments made by the state’s chief minister on the NHRC and the Supreme Court. 
As far as the remaining 12 cases are concerned, the judgment will not have any direct effect on them. Also, this should expedite the process of trial in the remaining cases.
 
Is there a possibility of the remaining riot cases being transferred outside Gujarat, especially as the Best Bakery retrial has already set precedence?
 The Supreme Court has set the next date of hearing into the remaining riots cases as March 28. We will have to represent our point before the honourable court and argue as Best Bakery retrial has already set precedence. The possibility of other cases being transferred out of the state cannot be ruled out.
 
While pronouncing the judgment Judge Thipsay also issued notices to Zaheera Sheikh and four of her family members asking them as why they should not be tried for giving false evidence?  Will this act as a deterrent to witnesses who turn hostile during the courts proceedings?
The perjury notices initiated against Zaheera hold relevance as she retracted from her statements on far too many occasions, despite members from her own family being killed in the incident. This will certainly act as a deterrent for other witnesses and will make them more cautious on their approach towards a case.
 The Best Bakery case raised a question mark on the witness protection programme in the country. How important do you think is a witness protection programme?

Not only has it become necessary to initiate and implement a witness protection, but it’s absolutely necessary to initiate reforms in the method of policing in the country. Also, it is necessary for the courts to dispose cases within a certain time period.

 http://dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1014733&CatID=2