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Gujarat acts before SC hearing

Ahmedabad, Aug. 7: A day before Supreme Court Chief Justice V.. Khare is scheduled to hear the National Human Rights Commission’s appeal for retrial in some Gujarat riot cases, the state government has moved the high court against the acquittals in the Best Bakery case.

The move, barely 24 hours after education minister Anandiben Patel’s assertion that the state “BJP accepts the Best Bakery judgment”, has fuelled speculation that the government is trying to pre-empt a harsh verdict from Justice Khare.

“We have complete faith in the judiciary and that is why we have appealed against the verdict,” law minister Ashok Bhatt said.

On June 27, a fast-track court had acquitted all the 21 accused of burning alive 14 people at the Vadodara bakery in March last year after the main witness refused to identify them. She later blamed a BJP MLA for threatening her into silence.

The government also moved an application challenging the decision of a Godhra sessions court to acquit several people accused of atrocities and rioting during the communal violence.

In the appeal in the bakery case, government pleader Arun Oza said the judge, H.U. Mahida, had not taken into account certain “legal points” and the statements of some of the witnesses.

Defence counsel Rajendra Trivedi said: “If the high court admits the petition of the Gujarat government and summons are issued to the acquitted persons, we will fight it out in the court.”

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