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Teesta's attack leaves SC fuming

Teesta's attack leaves SC fuming

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 20, 2008

The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned it would not hear any of the pending Godhra riot cases if social activist Teesta Setalvad represented the petitioners. The court was outraged over its criticism by Setalvad for delay in providing justice to the riot victims. Setalvad had attacked the judiciary in a recent write-up published in leading newspapers.

In 2003, the Supreme Court had stayed trial in a dozen cases relating to the Godhra riots and shifted the Best Bakery trial outside Gujarat. In this backdrop, such brazen criticism was the least the court had expected from Setalvad, whose NGO -- Citizen for Justice and Peace -- is one of the petitioners before the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan decried Setalvad's write-up as "shameful" and "in bad taste".

While hearing a bail petition of a riot accused, the Bench headed by Chief Justice referred to the write-up and expressed disgust over her comments alleging the Godhra matters are being "fixed" in court.

"There are 60,000 cases in the Supreme Court. Nobody fixes the cases manually. It is done by the computer," a visibly upset Bench said. "We see so many articles in the media, sometimes they are educative and sometimes we ignore it. But this article is simply not in good taste," it added.

The Bench commented the article appeared in several publications, including a Malayalam weekly.

So annoyed was the Bench it went to the extent to suggest, "If she (Teesta) is representing these petitioners, we do not want to hear it." Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was present in the court asked the court to treat the matter with contempt and let go off the case.

Incidentally, Salve is the amicus curiae in the matter concerning the shifting of trial outside Gujarat, where Teesta's NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is pressing for trial of a dozen cases to be shifted outside State. Setalvad, who is the secretary of the NGO, was also involved in the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano cases and is pursuing a PIL to remove Gujarat Police chief PC Pandey stating he was recruited at the behest of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Ironically, at the time the Bench was raining fury on Teesta, a separate Bench of the apex court was hearing the petition filed by the CJP along with the batch petitions filed by National Human Rights Commission in the Godhra trial. The matter is expected to come up for hearing in March next.

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