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A strong, independent, respected and trusted judiciary is essential for any democracy to survive and thrive. India, the world’s largest democracy, has been fortunate to have an efficient judiciary, as is evident from the fact that in spite of the polity having degenerated into a hotbed of corruption and malpractices, the judiciary continues to command enormous respect from the people of India.

Yet, it is equally true that a sense of unease about the role being played by the judicial system is growing in certain sections of the society in general.

The current dissatisfaction about the working of the judicial system is particularly strong in Gujarat mainly because of the orders and the judgments passed in cases related to the post-Godhra riots. Judicial officers in Gujarat are currently feeling disillusioned because an atmosphere has been created, or has somehow come into being, wherein people in other parts of the country believe that the judicial system in Gujarat is more prone to manipulation than is the case elsewhere. Every reasonably conscientious and knowledgeable persons living in Gujarat knows that it is not true. The simple truth of the matter is that the elite sections of the society, excluding Gujarat, expect the Gujarat judiciary to pass judgments of a particular kind only.

Who was wrong and who was right must not be decided by any voluntary agency and that includes the JUSTICE ON TRIAL . A voluntary agency cannot and should not be allowed to function as t. watchdog of the judicial system. The justice system is to remain above politics and suspicion.

The society must ask relevant questions necessary for clarifying any nagging doubts it may have. The simple principle should be that no matter how highly placed an officer of law is, sincerity of purpose, neutrality of approach and the adherence to the principles of law are always subject to proof and scrutiny. Let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind even the judiciary isn’t above the people. The judiciary exists for the people and not vice-versa.

The Supreme Court has ordered a retrial of the Best Bakery case outside the state. What worries an honest and upright citizen interested in upholding the law of the land is Why a decision was taken without obtaining a record of the case? Why did the honorable Supreme Court think it fit to transfer the case to Maharashtra on the basis of a simple oral request made by the counsel for the petitioners? The transfer to Maharashtra actually raises several important questions that must be answered, if the judicial system of the nation is to re-assure the people that it continues to be as fair and just as it has always been

The simplest of ill questions that has not been answered so far is how does Maharashtra provide a better atmosphere for conducting a free and fair trial? If somebody can harass and threaten a witness in Vadodara or Ahmedabad, is there something special about Mumbai that prevents harassment of witnesses? Should witnesses be protected by officers of law or should they be protected by private individuals?

Any officer of the judiciary in Gujarat would be justified in feeling humiliated by this transference of (post-Godhra) riots related cases to Maharashtra. Can it be anybody’s contention that lower courts in Maharashtra are more honest, fair and just than their counterparts in Gujarat?

The people have not questioned the judgments of the honorable Supreme Court. Nor is, there any intention to do so now. But surely it is their right to demand adherence to established norms and practices. What JUSTICE ON TRIAL seeks to achieve is to re-assure the people that the honorable Supreme Court of India has been as fair, just and unbiased as it has always been/ while passing orders and judgments in cases related to post-Godhra riots.

The purpose of JUSTICE ON TRIAL is to ensure that justice is not only done but is also seen to have been cone and that includes all the concerned parties. The objective of JUSTICE ON TRIAL is to re-assure the people that the judiciary hasn’t become Opinionated about social and moral issues and continues to follow the law of the land Scrupulously/ without getting emotional about any issue, no matter how heart-rending the case might appear to be.

There is no denying the fact that the August 17, 2004 order of the honorable Supreme Court of India, asking for re-opening of over 2,000 riots related cases would have a deep impact on the social fabric o/ the society in Gujarat. The order covers cases where

“A” summary has bee n granted. An ‘A’ summary is a record of an incidence where no evidence has been found of the crime or it is not possible to identify the perpetrator of the crime. There are a total of 2,119 such cases, covering 263 police stations in 27 of Gujarat’s 29 districts. The split of the cases is as follows:

Hindu complaints 383
Muslim complaints 1,398
Complaints by Authorities 338
Total 2,119

These cases would impact an estimated 22,000 families and about one lack witnesses, besides a large number of police officers.

JUSTICE ON TRIAL proposes to re-assure itself, and the people of Gujarat, that the honorable Supreme Court has examined, and taken into account, any likely impact of this transference on Gujarat’s social, economic and political life. JUSTICE ON TRIAL would like to re-assure itself, and the people of Gujarat, that the law of the land is being followed, and will be followed, in letter, and in spirit. JUSTICIE ON TRIAL would like to satisfy itself that statements of all witnesses would be accorded uniform weight age, in accordance with laws duly enacted by the legislature, irrespective of caste, religion or community.

JUSTICE ON TRIAL shall help maintain the dignity of the judicial system of the nation which is perhaps the most respected and trusted, as well as the most essential, organ of a democratic state.

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