Special Correspondent

8 acquitted; notice to Zahira

Show cause notice to Zahira Sheikh Zahira, other family members "deliberately gave false evidence"Rs. 50,000 compensation for wife of one of the victims

MUMBAI: A sessions court here on Friday convicted nine of the 17 accused facing retrial in the Best Bakery case in the special court at Mazgaon and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Eight persons were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Additional Sessions Judge Abhay Thipsay said the death penalty was not called for as no special part played by any accused was satisfactorily proved. The life sentence for the nine persons will run after a series of convictions under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Non-bailable warrants were issued against four accused persons, still at large.

Mr. Thipsay also directed issue of notices to Zahira Sheikh, her mother Sehrunissa, her brothers Nafitullah and Nasibullah and her sister, Sahira, asking them to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for giving false evidence. He said they deliberately gave false evidence and that harmed the image of activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad.

Those convicted are Rajubhai Dhamirbhai Baria, Pankaj Virendragir Gosai, Bahadursinh alias Jitu Chandrasinh Chauhan, Jagdish Chunilal Rajput, Dinesh Fulchand Rajbhar, Shanabhai Chimanbhai Baria, Suresh alias Lalo Devjibhai Vasava, Shailesh Anupbhai Tadvi and Sanjay Thakker.

Before undergoing life imprisonment all of them will have to serve sentences for various other offences under the IPC. All nine have to serve a maximum sentence of 10-year rigorous imprisonment for offences under Sections 143, 147, 324 and 326, 148, relating to unlawful assembly, mischief by fire, causing grievous hurt and using dangerous weapons.

In addition, five of them are convicted for offences under Sections 435, 395, 449, 450, 451 and 188 of the IPC. These relate to damage to property, arson, dacoity, wrongful confinement and criminal trespass. Fines varying from Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000 have also been imposed on the nine convicted persons.

The eight acquitted are Mahendra alias Langdo, Pratapsinh Ravjibhai Solanki, Yasin Khokhar, Tulsi Bhikabhai Tadvi, Ravi Rajaram Chauhan, Kamlesh Tadvi, Yogesh alias Painter Laxmansinh Varma and Harish Virendragir Gosai.

The judge worked out a compensation of Rs. 50,000 for the wife of Kausar Ali, one of the 14 victims of the Best Bakery massacre. Kausar Ali is Zahira's uncle. While the prosecution demanded that Rs. 2 lakhs be raised from fines on the accused, the convicted persons pleaded that they would not be able to pay. Mr. Thipsay then decided that Rs. 50,000 be awarded as compensation from the fines he imposed.

The Government has still not paid Shah Jahan, the Rs. 2 lakh due to her, as his body was not found.

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