//Zaheera sentenced to one year in prison

Zaheera sentenced to one year in prison

Zaheera sentenced to one year in prisonNDTV Correspondent

Wednesday, March 8, 2006 (New Delhi):

Zaheera Sheikh, the key witness in the Best Bakery case, has been sentenced to a year in prison for perjury.

The Supreme Court has also asked her to pay a fine of Rs 50,000. Zaheera faces two years imprisonment if she fails to pay the fine.

A bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice HK Sema said the case was a classic example of witnesses turning hostile.

Supreme Court Observation

Courts are not tape recording machines. They have to play a participatory role.

People have started feeling that criminal trials are like cobwebs where small flies are getting caught and big people are dashing through.

Courts have an over-riding duty to maintain public confidence and uphold the majesty of courts.

The interest of society is not to be treated with disdain. The duty of the court is to uphold the majesty of law.

While delivering the judgement, the Bench spoke at length about the role of witnesses in a criminal trial.

"The court should not be a tape recording machine but play a participatory role," the Bench observed.

Assets to be attached

However, Zaheera’s counsel says they are planning to appeal for a reduction of the sentence.

Zaheera’s changing testimonies are believed to have weakened the Best Bakery trial and led to the acquittal of many of the accused.

Disapproving Zaheera’s conduct in the case, the court directed Income Tax authorities to attach her assets and bank accounts for three months.

It also asked the authorities to initiate proceedings to ascertain her source of income since year 2000.

The court said the proceedings against Zaheera will be initiated in accordance with law and directed the Vadodara IT Commissioner to take appropriate action.