Thursday, January 9, 2014

We rest our Case Part One

We rest our Case                                         Part One
Teesta Setalvad
In the court of public opinion, we believe we must be fair, not conceal facts and most especially use language of the civilized whom we still believe to be the majority in this precious and beloved country. Hatred and Venom are for the Oppressor, the Powerful those who envison themselves to be above the law. Above all venom is for those who cannot involve themselves in seasoned and reasoned argument, those who believe in the red hot haze of angry reaction cause by vile and bile, when the real matter at hand is (successfully and sinisterly) forgotten.
Supporters of the Man who Dreams of being prime minister, prefer terms like “bitch” when they speak to opponents of a man we believe is not just deeply antithetical to the values of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution  (brought up as he has within the walls of the hate encompassed sangh) but also deeply contemptuous of the rule of law, the bedrock of a civilized democracy. While I have always used terms like mass murderer to describe the collusive inaction of a man who presided, cynically over a brutal massacre, abusive personal epithets are not my preferred style. Our response then to the last set of vile and baseless allegations is to put certain facts in the public domain.
A former employee of our organization, was discontinued from services because of his suddenly developing connections to powerful accused in the Naroda Gaam and Naroda Patiya cases and the organizations like the VHP to whom they belonged, way back in January 2008. He stays mum for a curious 35 months until he, starts shopping for multiple forums to hurl allegations. Four trial Courts, Commissions, the public domain. Worse, in all this, he is aided by an overzealous Gujarat police that could not protect innocent lives of the minority in 2002 (2000 were killed in vile reprisal killings following the tragic burning alive of 59 persons in the train at Godhtra station) to mayh somehow, get arrested. That he is aided since 2010, in the law Courts and in real life, aided by powerful functionaries of the same political dispensation who are threatened by the struggle for justice for the survivors of 2002, becomes clear from their visible support. (remember intrepid criminal lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, a la Manu Sharma fame, who appeared for the man opposing us in the Supreme Court (2012) even making vile allegations against the Court itself ?) and and Lekhi openly defending him at a recent press conference (are we at all surprised?)

The Trial Courts within Gujarat have exonerated us of the vile allegations made by the man and used strong words against this (his) interference. After convicting 31 persons to life imprisonment in the Sardarpura mass massacre case on 9.11.2011, the vicious and malafide application seeking criminal action against us by this stooge of the government was rejected and in a separate order, om 20.10.2010, the Court rejected it and issued a show-cause notice to the applicant under section 340(1) of the CRPC in respect of the offence made under section 177 of the I.P.C. with reference to section 195(1) of the CRPC returnable on or before 27.12.2010. Calling him a busybody with vested interests, the Court held that “From the plain reading of the application and from the above facts and circumstances, it apparently becomes clear that the present application has no sanctity for the on-going process of justice and he has no respect for the truth and, therefore, he cannot be relied upon for just decision of the case. From the contents of the application itself, credibility of the applicant is unreliable and by examining such applicant as court witness, court cannot become part of mockery of administration of justice and the try by the applicant to allow this application, would also amount to 3 mockery of administration of justice. So, considering the conduct of the applicant and contents of the application, it appears that the applicant is coming with an intention to achieve some unknown goal either to his previous employer or to help the accused with an intention to gain undesirable result in the case

Signifiantly in the main judgment delivered on the same day i.e. 9.11.2011, the Learned Sessions judge also gave a finding that there has been no tutoring of witnesses by Teesta Setalvad. (Paras 56-57 of the Judgement).
Sardarpura Judgement (9.11.2011 ) Paras 56 & 57 “56. It is submitted on behalf of accused that, eyewitness are tutored by Smt.Teesta Setalvad. The interest of Teesta Setalvad and her organization in the present case is obvious. The witnesses have specifically denied that, Teesta Setalvad has told them as to what evidence was to be given in a case. Considering the evidence and fact in this regard when we consider this fact mere discussion about the case would not necessarily indicate tutoring. It is not an accepted proposition that, the witnesses are never to be contacted by any one or spoken to about the matter regarding which they are to depose. A number of things can be told to the witnesses such as not to be nervous, carefully listen to the question put to them, state the facts before the Court without fear, therefore it does not appear any objectionable morally or legally. Tutoring a witness is quite different from guiding him as to his behaviour. In the present case, the injured witnesses were in such a state of mind that without the active support of someone they might not have come before the court to give evidence at all. The encouragement and the advice if provided by Citizen for Peace and Justice that cannot be considered as tutoring and simply because of that, we cannot infer that the witnesses are tutored. From the matter it transpires that Citizen for Justice and Peace have made allegations before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India against the State authorities but on that strength it cannot be said that, NGOs. have worked with bad motives. If they had fought for truth what was believed by them as truth. It does not mean that they have tutored the witnesses to falsely identify the accused in the Court.
“57. In this regard when we consider the evidence, witness could be tutored only by a person who knew the facts. It is difficult for a person who was not present at the time of occurrence to tutor an occurrence witness and if at all this can be done, it would be based on the records of the case, which does not seen to have been happened in the present case. Further, more the happenings and the manner in which in the present case took place, is also not much in dispute, so the aspect of tutoring would be confined to the identification only. It is not easy to tutor one to identify another as victims and accused are previously known to each other but not known to tutoring persons. Tutoring of this type would require the persons tutoring, the concerned accused and the concerned witness to be together for a reasonable period or one or more occasion. Further, tutoring in such cases would be in consonance with police record or prosecution case which does not appear to be happened in this case. Further, it is also important to be considered that, before identification in the Court by the witness accused were asked to sit in the Court as per their own choice, they were not forced to sit at serial number given to them in Charge sheet or any other fix order and their names were never loudly being called out in the court in the presence of witnesses. The identification of accused have taken place under the observation of the Court. So the court can view the actions/reactions of the witnesses. All precautions were taken by the Court while identification of accused were carried out in the Court room. Further, precautions were also taken by the Court whether witness could see the persons sitting in the Court room. Similarly accused were given liberty to sit in the court in any manner, anywhere.”

There have been similar exonerations of any vicious allegations against us in the Naroda Patiya case judgement (2012) and earlier in the Supreme Court registrar General BM Gupta’s report.

But what do the stooges of the Man who would be PM have for the opinions of the Courts, the rule of law? They prefer the law of the jungle, mob fury, abusive diatribes, and irresponsible reportage on websites funded by their supine and ambitious supporters. As we head for India’s most crucial election to date, Indians will decide the fate of not just individuals who have been so vilely targeted but the future of Indian Democracy itself.

In Hope…


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