April-May 2006 
Year 12    No.115

Best Bakery Judgement

Oral Judgement




The State of Gujarat ]

[at the instance of PI D.C.B. ]

Police Station, Vadodara ]                                           Complainant.

City, Gujarat State. [C.R. ]

No. 82/2002 of Panigate ]

Police Station] ]



1] Rajubhai Dhamirbhai Baria. ]
Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


2] Mahendra @ Langdo ]

Vishwasrao Jadhav. ]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Behind Naikpura Woodland, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


3] Haresh @ Tino Virendragir ]

Gosai. ]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


4] Pankaj Virendragir Gosai. ]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


5] Yogesh @ Painter ]

Laxmansinh Varma. ]

Behind Vihar Theatre, ]

Near Jain Temple, ]

Pratapnagar, Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


6] Pratapsinh Ravjibhai ]

Chauhan. ].. [Orig. A/10]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


7] Sanjay @ Bhopo Ratilal ]

Thakkar. ].. [Orig.A/11]

Mahesh Mangal Society, ]

Waghodia Road,Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


8] Bahadursinh @ Jitu ]

Chandrasinh Chauhan. ].. [Orig. A/12]

Behind Bhabha Plan, ]

C. Ramnagar Road, ]

Sainathnagar, Mohd. Talao ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


9] Yasin Alibhai Khokhar. ].. [Orig. A/13]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road ]

Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


10] Jagdish Chunilal Rajput. ].. [Orig. A/14]

Ranmukteshwar Road, ]

Tejab Mill Chawl, ]

Pratap Nagar, ]

Opp. Bhataji Temple, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


11] Dinesh Phulchand Rajbhar. ].. [Orig. A/15]

Daboi Road, Ansuya Nagar, ]

Opp. Bhataji Temple, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


12] Shanabhai Chimanbhai Baria. ].. [Orig. A/16]

Soma Talao, Daboi Road, ]

Zopadpatti, Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


13] Tulsi Bhikabhai Tadvi. ].. [Orig. A/17]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


14] Shailesh Anupbhai Tadvi. ].. [Orig. A/18]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


15] Kamlesh Bhikabhai Tadvi. ].. [Orig. A/19]

Hanuman Tekdi, Daboi Road, ]

Pratap Nagar Road, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]


16] Suresh @ Lalo Devjibhai ]

Vasava. ].. [Orig. A/20]

Daboi Road, Ansuya Nagar ]

Pratap Nagar, Vadodara, ]

State – Gujarat. ]


17] Ravi Rajaram Chauhan. ].. [Orig. A/21]

Yamuna Mill, Juna Jakat ]

Naka, Daboi Road, ]

Ansuya Nagar, ]

Vadodara, State – Gujarat. ]





DATED: 24/02/2006

Smt. Manjula Rao, Special Public Prosecutor for the State of Gujarat, with Advocate Shri A.R. Pandey
and Advocate Shri J.P. Yagnik to assist her.

Shri Adhik Shirodkar, Senior Advocate, with Shri D.S. Jambaulikar, Advocates for Accused
Nos. 1 to 5, 10, 11 and 12.

Shri Mangesh Pawar, Advocate for Accused Nos. 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21.

Shri V.D. Bichu, Advocate for Accused Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 20.



Additional Sessions Judge, First Fast Track Court, Vadodara, State of Gujarat, in Sessions Case No. 248 of 2002, and were acquitted. This is a retrial of the said case.

2. The retrial has been held pursuant to the directions given by the Supreme Court of India, in the circumstances mentioned below.

3. The prosecution launched against the accused is on the basis of a report under Section 173 (2) (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure [hereinafter referred to as ‘the Code’ for the sake of brevity], submitted by the Inspector of Police, D.C.B. Police Station, Vadodara City, State of Gujarat, on the allegation that they have committed offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 149 of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 452, 302, 307, 323, 324, 326, 337, 342, 395, 435, 436, 427, 504, 506, 201 and 188 of the Indian Penal Code, as also an offence punishable under Section 135 of the Bombay Police Act.

4. The incident giving rise to the aforesaid offences is a fallout of the communal riots that took place in Vadodara city – and elsewhere also in the State of Gujarat – pursuant to the incident of the burning of bogie of Sabarmati Express on 27/02/2002, carrying ‘kaar-sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya. The belief that Muslims had burnt the bogie carrying ‘kaar-sevaks’ was spread in Vadodara city through various sources and mediums. This gave rise to excitement and feelings of anger against the Muslims, resulting in the atmosphere in the Vadodara city becoming tense and communally charged.

5. The prosecution case, in a nutshell, is that during the period between about 8.30 p.m. on 01/03/2002 and 11.00 a.m. on 02/03/2002, residential building and bakery belonging to a Muslim family was set on fire and burnt down by members of an unlawful assembly, the object of which, was to attack and kill the Muslims and to snatch, or damage, or destroy their properties. In the fire set to the said building, a number of persons were burnt to death. Those who survived till the morning were made to get down from the terrace of the said building, after which they were attacked with deadly weapons causing serious injuries to them. Some of them succumbed to those injuries. The movable property such as vehicles, etc., had also been set on fire by the mob of rioters. Articles such as ghee and maida, etc., were robbed and looted. The accused persons were members of the said unlawful assembly, in prosecution of the common object of which the aforesaid offences were committed by its members. The accused were, therefore, the offenders. In the course of investigation, they were arrested and prosecuted, as aforesaid.

6. During the original trial, a number of witnesses – including the first informant Smt. Zahira Shaikh and other victims – turned hostile and as aforesaid, the case resulted in acquittal of all the accused. After the acquittal, a grievance was made by the victims that they had been threatened not to speak the truth and not to implicate the accused persons; and that due to such threats, they had been forced to speak lies in the Court. The first informant – Smt. Zahira Shaikh – appeared before the National Human Rights Commission, stating that she had been threatened not to depose against the accused persons. A number of allegations, including the allegation of improper conduct of the trial, were made. The role played by the investigating agency was criticised. When the matter was taken to the Supreme Court of India by some of the victims and one N.G.O. – Citizens for Justice and Peace – the Supreme Court of India, by holding that there was ample evidence on record demonstrating the subversion of justice delivery system and that no congenial or conducive atmosphere was till then prevailing, directed retrial to be done by the Court under the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court requested the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to fix up a Court of competent jurisdiction to hold the retrial. Pursuant to the said order and direction of the Supreme Court of India, the present retrial is being held by this Court.

7. It would be proper to mention here the prosecution case, by giving necessary details covering the background, the incident leading up to the registration of the F.I.R., the arrests of the accused persons, the investigation carried out thereafter, as can be gathered from the police report, and the narration of the prosecution witnesses unfolded during the present trial.

… … …

142. After this Court was nominated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court for holding retrial, in due course, the record of proceedings in respect of the trial held by the Sessions Court at Vadodara was received by this Court.

143. Even after the receipt of the record of proceedings, the retrial could not be commenced, as the presence of the accused persons could not be secured immediately. It took some time to secure the presence of the accused persons. The original Accused No.6 – Jayantibhai Jamsinh Gohil, Accused No.7 – Ramesh @ Rinku Jayantibhai Gohil, Accused No.8 – Mafat @ Mahesh Manilal Gohil and Accused No.9 – Harshad @ Munno Ravjibhai Solanki, however, could not be found in spite of issuing coercive process and publication of proclamation requiring their presence before the Court. Warrants of arrest against them were directed to the Mumbai police also, but those accused could not be traced. The case of the said four accused was therefore separated and the trial proceeded against the above-mentioned accused only. Procedure as contemplated under Section 299 (1) of the Code was followed and it was declared that the evidence of the witnesses recorded in this case would be treated as the record of evidence against the said absconding accused. Accused Ravi Rajaram Chauhan [original Accused No.21], who was on bail during the previous trial and who surrendered before this Court, was allowed to remain on bail during the retrial also.

144. Though the case against the said four accused has been separated, for the sake of convenience, all the accused persons are being referred to by the same numbers which were given to them originally – i.e. during the previous trial.

145. After going through the police report, accompanying documents and record of the case, it was thought proper to frame appropriate charges against the accused persons, instead of proceeding to record evidence on the basis of the charge framed during the previous trial.

146. The charge of offences punishable under Sections 143 of the I.P.C., 147 of the I.P.C., 435 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 436 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 395 of the I.P.C., 395 of the I.P.C. r/w. 397 of the I.P.C., 342 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 448 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 449 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 450 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 451 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 324 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 326 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 302 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C. and 188 of the I.P.C. was framed against all the accused. Additionally, the charge of an offence punishable under Sections 144 of the I.P.C. and 148 of the I.P.C. was framed against Accused Nos.10, 12, 19 and 21.

147. At that time, i.e. on 22/09/2004, Accused No.11 Sanjay Ratilal Thakkar had not been apprehended. After his apprehension, a separate charge of offences punishable under Sections 143 of the I.P.C., 147 of the I.P.C., 435 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 436 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 395 of the I.P.C., 395 of the I.P.C. r/w. 397 of the I.P.C., 342 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 448 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 449 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 450 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 451 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 324 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 326 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C., 302 of the I.P.C. r/w. 149 of the I.P.C. and 188 of the I.P.C. was framed against him also.

148. The charge was read over and explained to all the accused persons. All the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed to be tried.

149. In order to establish its case against the accused persons, the prosecution has examined, in all, 75 witnesses, all of whom, except P.W.18, P.W.59, P.W.64, P.W.65 and P.W.73, have been referred to earlier while narrating the details of the prosecution case. Dinubhai Ambalal Patel [P.W.18] is the Chief Fire Officer through whom certain documents were got produced. Rajendra Chavan [P.W.59] is an Inspector of Police who had, on 16/12/2003, recorded the statement of first informant Zahira Shaikh [P.W.41] in connection with the question of protection to be provided to her. He was examined to prove certain previous statements made by Zahira and for the purpose of contradicting her testimony on certain points. Prakash Pathak [P.W.64] is the Assistant Sub-Inspector of police attached to the Special Branch, through whom the notifications against forming of assemblies [Ex.253], prohibiting the possession of arms [Ex.254] and imposing curfew [Ex.255] issued by the Commissioner of Police, have been produced. Parimal Keshabhai Velera [P.W.65], Deputy Commissioner of State Intelligence, State of Gujarat, has been examined to establish that certain video shooting was officially done by the Gujarat Police during the riots in question. Pankaj Shankar [P.W.73] is a Journalist who voluntarily appeared before the Court and who was examined by the prosecution for proving certain statements of Zahira [P.W.41], Nafitulla [P.W.31], Saherunnisa [P.W.40] and Nasibulla [P.W.30], said to be recorded by this witness on a video during their interview taken by this witness on 18/04/2002. The witness has produced a video cassette [Ex.389] containing the record of the said interviews.

150. The accused have examined 5 witnesses in defence. D.W.1 – Kumar Swami, Inspector General of Police, State Intelligence Bureau, State of Gujarat, has been examined for proving some previous statements made by Smt. Yasmin [P.W.29] to him, with the object of contradicting Smt. Yasmin. D.W.2 – Deepak Swaroop is the Commissioner of Police, Vadodara City, who was apparently examined to establish the existence and maintenance of a lock-up register by the D.C.B. Police Station, Vadodara, at the material time. D.W.3 – Ramjibhai Jagjibhai Pargi, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Vadodara City, was also examined for establishing certain previous statements made by Smt. Yasmin to him with the object of contradicting the testimony of Smt. Yasmin. D.W.4 – Mrs. Khyati Pandya – is the Chief Executive Officer of a local T.V. channel in Vadodara. She also has been examined for the purpose of proving certain previous statements made by Smt. Yasmin in an interview given to local T.V. channels. The C.D. [Art.R/38] containing a record of the relevant interview and its transcription marked as Ex. 514(colly.) is said to be prepared by her. D.W.5 – Ajay Jasubhai Patel – is the videographer who had done the video shooting in respect of an interview of Smt. Yasmin in which she had made the statements contained in the said C.D. [Art.R/38]. It is on the basis of the shooting done by him by using a Mini D.V. camera and cassette, the said C.D. [Art.R/38] came to be prepared by Smt. Khyati Pandya [D.W.4].

151. Apart from the oral evidence, a number of documents have been tendered in evidence, marked and exhibited. These include photographs, video cassettes and video C.Ds.

152. Local inspection of the place of offences and other places was carried out. The learned Advocates for the accused had made an application even before the commencement of the recording of evidence praying that local inspection should be carried out. However, it was thought not necessary to carry out the local inspection at that point of time. Later on, before the evidence of the Investigating Officer PI Shri P.P. Kanani [P.W.74] was recorded, the learned Advocates for the accused again made an application praying for local inspection. In the said application, it was categorically asserted, inter alia, as follows:

"A visit by this Court will conclusively prove that none of the witnesses, who claim to have seen the accused, could have, in fact seen them."

and that: "A grave prejudice will be caused to the accused if this is not done."

In view of this emphatic and categorical assertion on behalf of the accused, the application was allowed. Local inspection was carried out on 26th May [in the night] and 27th May 2005 [in the morning], as the learned Advocates for the accused had expressed that it was necessary to inspect the relevant places in the night, as well as in the morning.

153. The memorandum of the facts observed at the said inspection [Ex.402] is on record.

154. The defence of the accused persons, as appearing from the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses and from their examination under Section 313 of the Code, is of total denial. Though there are certain variations in certain contentions raised by the accused persons – which variations occurred as the trial progressed – the basic defence of the accused persons is that they have not committed the alleged offences; and that they have been falsely implicated. The accused persons claim to be unaware of the alleged incident. They maintain that they have been falsely implicated, though, there are variations as regards the persons at whose instance they have been falsely implicated and/or the reasons for the false implication.

155. A remarkable aspect of the retrial must be mentioned at this stage itself. It may be recalled that Zahira Shaikh [P.W.41], the first informant, had complained about the threats and about having been forced to depose in favour of the accused because of the threats received by her and her family members from the workers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party and had made allegations against a local Municipal Corporator and a Member of the Legislative Assembly. It was Zahira at whose instance the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had ordered a retrial. Zahira was being helped by an N.G.O. – Citizens for Justice and Peace – and the Secretary of the said N.G.O. – Smt. Teesta Setalvad. Zahira, who had, after the trial, come to stay in Maharashtra and had sought police protection on the ground that she apprehended danger at the hands of persons who were interested in supporting the accused, after the commencement of the retrial, left the police protection and went back to Gujarat. After going there, Zahira obtained police protection from the Gujarat Police. She claimed that she had been earlier kidnapped and kept in confinement by Smt. Teesta Setalvad. She even denied having filed any appeal, or petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, praying for retrial. She claimed that her signatures had been obtained on some blank papers by Smt. Teesta Setalvad. Her relatives – i.e. brothers Nafitulla [P.W.31], Nasibulla [P.W.30], mother Saherunnisa [P.W.40] and sister Sahera [P.W.35] – also turned hostile and made similar allegations against the said N.G.O. and its Secretary Smt. Teesta Setalvad.

Thus, a situation arose where the supposed victims of the crime, who had supposedly approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India with a grievance that no fair trial had been held, that they had been threatened and prevented from deposing the truth and who had secured an order of getting the matter retried on the basis of all these assertions, started saying that they were having no grievance about the previous trial, that they never had any grievance in that regard, that they had not asked for a retrial at all. They made statements suggesting that the retrial had been wrongly ordered; and that the Hon’ble Supreme Court was misled into believing that the previous trial was vitiated. Zahira had, after the original trial, appeared before several authorities, including the National Human Rights Commission, Election Commission, where she had been consistent in her allegations that she had received threats due to which she could not speak the truth during the trial. After turning hostile, she either said that she had never made any such grievance to any authority at all, or said that whatever she stated before the concerned authorities was a result of tutoring by some persons.

156. The matter is so bitterly fought that the process of recording of evidence was marked by a number of objections and a requirement of making elaborate notes in respect of the objections.

157. Smt. Manjula Rao, the learned Spl. P.P., contended that the same forces or powers that had earlier threatened Zahira and other witnesses not to depose the truth before the Court, had again become active – rather more active – after a retrial was ordered and had tampered with the witnesses. It was contended that the crucial witnesses had been bribed and also kept in confinement or observation so as to keep a check on the possibility of their again changing their minds. She further submitted that in spite of Zahira [P.W.41] and other witnesses again turning hostile, the prosecution has succeeded in proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. Smt. Rao submitted that the occurrence witnesses/ eyewitnesses who have supported the prosecution case are reliable and trustworthy; and that their testimony should be accepted. She also submitted that there was undoubted and voluminous other evidence which corroborates the version of the eyewitnesses. She also contended that why Zahira [P.W.41] and others from her family had turned hostile was clear from the evidence on record; and that even from them, facts supporting the version of the prosecution, particularly relating to the occurrence, have been elicited.

158. Shri Adhik Shirodkar, the learned Senior Advocate on behalf of accused, on the other hand, contended that the entire prosecution is false and motivated. It was contended, inter alia, that Zahira and her family members were actually telling the truth before the Court; and that at the instance of the said N.G.O., a false colour was given to the matter with ulterior motives; and that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India was misled in order to secure an order for retrial. It was submitted that, the investigating agency had been unfair to the accused; and that the investigation is tainted and vitiated. It is contended that the occurrence witnesses who have supported the prosecution case, had been tutored; and that there is a clear indication of the same from the evidence on record. According to him, versions of the witnesses who have supported the prosecution case are contrary to their versions in their respective statements recorded by the police during investigation. According to Shri Shirodkar, all the witnesses have improved upon their original versions, to implicate the accused, as a result of tutoring.

159. Shri Jambaulikar, the learned Advocate for Accused Nos.1 to 5, 10, 11 and 12, Shri V.D. Bichu, the learned Advocate for Accused Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 20 and Shri Mangesh Pawar, the learned Advocate for Accused Nos. 16 to 19 and 21, have adopted all the arguments advanced by Shri Shirodkar and have also advanced separate oral arguments of their own.

160. In addition to the oral arguments, memorandum of written arguments [Ex.521/A] has been filed by Shri Shirodkar on behalf of all the accused. Though these written arguments/ submissions have been filed on behalf of all the accused, Shri Bichu and Shri Pawar have still thought it fit to file additional and separate written arguments [Ex.522/A and Ex.523/A respectively] on behalf of the respective accused whom they represent.

161. I have carefully gone through the entire evidence on record. I have taken into consideration the arguments advanced by the learned counsel, oral and written. I have taken into consideration the ratio of decisions of the Apex Court and of various High Courts cited by and relied upon by the learned counsel in support of their respective contentions.

162. Upon considering the prosecution case, the evidence adduced, the defence of the accused and the arguments advanced, the points which arise for my determination are mentioned below together with the answers thereto, as follows.


As to Point No. 1:

163. On this point, there is clear and undoubted evidence. In fact, this point is not in dispute at all. I shall, nevertheless, examine the evidence in that regard so as to be able to appreciate the happenings in proper perspective.

164. PI Shri H.G. Baria [P.W.72] has stated that on 27/02/2002, a train was set on fire at Godhra railway station. ‘kaar-sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya who were in that train were burnt. The Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city, had therefore apprehended that there would be some law and order problem in Vadodara city. The Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city, had called a meeting of the police officers on 27/02/2002. The police officers were asked to be vigilant and maintain law and order. Specific instructions were given to depute police personnel in communally sensitive areas. PI Baria [P.W.72] took several precautions as the Inspector in-charge of Panigate Police Station, with respect to the area under his control. Preventive action was taken against the persons who were involved in previous communal riots. Twenty-two points were identified as communally sensitive points and one armed A.S.I. and two armed constables were deputed on every such police point. Additionally, regular police patrolling in various mobile vans was maintained. PI Baria has stated that repeatedly messages were being received from the Control Room regarding the incidents of communal riots at different places. Information about the incidents of communal riots used to be received by the police from the public also. According to PI Baria, during the period from 00.00 hours on 28/02/2002 to 24.00 hours of 01/03/2002, 58 cases of crimes – all regarding communal riots – were registered at the Panigate Police Station. On 28/02/2002, 80 messages were given to Panigate Police Station by the Control Room and on 01/03/2002, about 200 messages were received from the Control Room. Additionally, 45 messages were received at the Panigate Police Station from the public. All these messages were relating to the communal riots and regarding the incidents that were taking place in the area under the jurisdiction of Panigate Police Station. The messages that were being received, were regarding damage caused by Hindu people to the properties of Muslims, such as shops, factories, etc., and were also regarding the bodily offences committed by the Hindus against the Muslims. The incidents were of stabbing, setting shops and houses on fire, etc. PI Baria [P.W.72] has also referred to a report received on 01/03/2002 at about 8.30 p.m. from the Control Room where the mobs of Hindus and Muslims consisting of 1,500 persons on each side had assembled behind Gajrawadi Police Chowki; and that stone throwing was going on on both the sides. The police had to resort to gas gun firing. Thus, the evidence of PI Baria alone is sufficient to indicate that the atmosphere in Vadodara city had become tense; and that various incidents of communal violence were taking place during that period.

165. PI Shri P.P. Kanani [P.W.74] has also described the situation prevailing in Vadodara city during the relevant period… PI Kanani’s [ P.W.74] evidence shows that additional police force from outside was brought in Vadodara city and to meet the requirement of additional vehicles, private vehicles were hired, fitted with wireless sets, mikes, etc., making them suitable for use by the police. PI Kanani’s evidence also shows that while the affected Sabarmati Express train was required to pass through Vadodara railway station, on the platform of Vadodara railway station, one Muslim person was stabbed to death in a communal incident. There were incidents of truck burning and driver being stabbed, rickshaw driver being stabbed, etc. Curfew was imposed by the Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city, in almost every part of Vadodara. PI Kanani [P.W.74] has stated that due to the publicity that was received by the news regarding the incident of train burning at Godhra, there was a feeling of anger and revenge as a result of which, communal incidents started and properties of isolated Muslims were targeted, damaged and destroyed. PI Kanani has clearly stated that by the evening of 28/02/2002, communal riots were spread in the whole city. On 01/03/2002, there was a call of ‘Bharat Bandh’ from ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’. On that day also, communal incidents took place on a large scale. Serious communal incidents continued till 05/03/2002 after which the situation came somewhat under control.

166. The evidence of these two witnesses is supported by the evidence of other witnesses, including the occurrence witnesses, but it is not necessary to discuss the same in this context. This is particularly so because there is no challenge to this evidence and this part of the prosecution case. The evidence of PI Baria [P.W.72] and PI Kanani [P.W.74], which is not challenged and is supported by other evidence, clearly establishes that during the relevant period and even thereafter for some time, the situation in Vadodara city had become tense, that various incidents of communal violence took place during this period; and that serious law and order problems arose during this period.

… … …

168. The case of the prosecution rests mainly on the evidence of 5 eyewitnesses who have supported the prosecution case. This is true with regard to the happening of the incident which was spread over from the night till the next morning also and not merely with respect to the evidence to connect the accused persons with the alleged offences, though with respect to the happening of the incident, there is corroboration and support to the various parts of the story from other witnesses and even from the hostile witnesses. These witnesses have been extensively cross-examined. As their evidence touches almost all the aspects of the prosecution case, it would be appropriate to discuss the evidence of these 5 witnesses first. [Their evidence which tends to connect the accused, or some of them, with the alleged offences, may, however, require a more detailed and separate discussion]. In fact, without first having a discussion on and the examination of their evidence, the various contentions raised by the Advocates for the accused, challenging the value on reliability of the prosecution case in general, cannot be properly appreciated.

169. The evidence of the hostile witnesses is also direct evidence and is required to be examined for whatever it is worth. The legal principles laid down by the authoritative pronouncements of superior Courts in the matter of appreciating the evidence of hostile witnesses clearly indicate that the evidence of hostile witnesses is nevertheless substantive evidence and it is for the Court to appreciate the evidence considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case and to come to a conclusion whether it is to be wholly discarded or whether a part of it can be relied upon.

170. Before proceeding further to discuss the evidence, a mention must be made of a video cassette [Art.R/27, subsequently exhibited and marked as Ex.283] that has been tendered in evidence. This video cassette was not forwarded to the Court along with the charge-sheet and no mention of the same – as a document or object on which the prosecution would rely – was made in the police report. The background and the manner in which video cassette [Ex.283] came on record, is rather interesting. A number of objections have been raised with respect to the admitting of the said video cassette [Ex.283] in evidence which shall be dealt with by me later at an appropriate stage. For the present, I only observe that the video cassette [Ex.283] is properly proved and is an important piece of evidence which corroborates several aspects of the prosecution case.

171. I shall, now, consider the evidence of each of the occurrence witnesses/ eyewitnesses who have supported the prosecution case, in depth. Certain general contentions about the evidence of these witnesses which are common to all, may, however, be separately discussed. Further, the evidence of all these witnesses, so far it relates to connecting the accused person with the alleged offences, shall be separately and more meticulously examined later.

172. It may be kept in mind that none of these witnesses, who are obviously very important witnesses, were examined during the previous trial.

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