‘Judge biased, shift Gulberg Society massacre trial’

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: Some witnesses to and victims of the Gulberg Society massacre in the 2002 Gujarat communal riots have demanded transfer of the trial from the special court of judge B.U. Joshi, alleging that he is “biased” in favour of the accused.

In their transfer plea filed in the court of principal sessions judge G.B. Shah here on Monday, the petitioners said watching Mr. Joshi’s behaviour during the trial, they lost faith in him.

Special courts were constituted by the Gujarat High Court at the behest of the Supreme Court for trial of nine of the more heinous incidents of massacre, and Mr. Joshi was appointed for the trial of the Gulberg Society incident in Ahmedabad, in which 69 people including a former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri, were killed.

In the petition, the eyewitnesses alleged that judge Joshi had been showing a “distinct bias” against the riot victims and in favour of the accused ever since the court started recording the testimonies of the victims and witnesses.

It was pointed out that after two key eyewitnesses, Imtiyaz Khan Pathan and Rupa Dara Modi, recorded their depositions, none was allowed to step out of the witness box to identify the accused, and objections raised by the witnesses through their advocates were overruled.

The transfer petition said judge was also openly hostile and showed an aggressive attitude, repeatedly making derisive comments about affidavits filed by the victims in the Supreme Court and also about the complaints filed before the Police Commissioner in 2002 and 2003, when an application to arraign more accused was heard earlier this month.

On January 18, the judge passed an order refusing to arraign more accused. He accepted the arguments of the witnesses only against constable Rajesh Jinger, who lived in the same society. The policeman was asked to remain present in the court on January 22 and the judge ordered his release on a simple bond of Rs. 5,000 without the accused serving a single day in police custody despite his alleged involvement in the heinous crime, the petition said.

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