Gulbarg society massacre case transfer appeal Wednesday

Gandhinagar, Jan 26 (IANS) A petition alleging bias on the part of the special judge hearing the 2002 Gulbarg society massacre case of Ahmedabad that left 69 people dead during the 2002 Gujarat riots is slated to come up for hearing Wednesday.

Witnesses and victims of the communal riot massacre, which left former MP Ehsan Jaffri among others dead, have sought transfer of the trial from the special court of B.U. Joshi, charging him with harbouring bias against the victims and witnesses. Pending a decision, a stay on the proceedings of the case has been sought.

The transfer petition was filed in the court of Principal Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad, G.B. Shah Monday and has been posted for hearing Wednesday.

The petitioners have contended that the judge’s behaviour during the trial has led to erosion of faith in him and in the circumstances, the case should be transferred to some other court.

Set up by the high court under directions of the Supreme Court for the trial of nine very serious incidents of killings during the 2002 communal riots, the special court of B.U. Joshi is hearing the Gulbarg society massacre case.

In the transfer petition, the witnesses have alleged that the judge was showing a ‘distinct bias’ against the riot victims and in favour of the accused from the time the recording of the testimonies of the victims and the witnesses was initiated.

It was pointed out that after deposition of two major witnesses, Imtiyaz Khan Pathan and Rupa Dara Modi, other witnesses were disallowed from stepping out of the witness box to identify the accused at the back of the courtroom and the objections raised by the witnesses through their advocates were overruled by the judge.

The petition alleges improper and incomplete recording of evidence in the court. It also pointed out that the judge showed hostile and aggressive attitude during the proceedings Jan 7-8 by repeatedly making derisive comments when the application for arraigning more accused was being heard.

The petition further contended that on Jan 18, the judge passed an order refusing to arraign more accused. The court accepted the arguments of the witnesses only in connection with a police constable, Rajesh Jinger, who lived in the same society.

In this case too, Jinger, directed to remain present in court Jan 22, was ordered released on a simple bond without serving a single day in police custody.

‘This denotes a singularly hostile intent of the court towards the victims and witnesses,’ the petition summed up.

S.M. Vora, counsel for the witnesses, said that though the special judge was appointed by the high court, the sessions court has the powers handed down by the high court to intervene if the cause of justice is being subverted.

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