NHRC moves the Supreme Court in Best Bakery case
Deeply concerned about the damage to the credibility of the criminal justice delivery system and negation of human rights of victims, the Commission, on consideration of the report of its team which was sent to Vadodara, filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) under Article 136 of the Constitution of India in the Supreme Court on 31 July 2003 with a prayer to set aside the impugned judgement of the Trial Court in the Best Bakery case and sought directions for further investigation by an independent agency and retrial of the case in a competent court located outside the State of Gujarat.
The Commission has, inter-alia, contended in the SLP that
The concept of fair trial is a constitutional imperative and is explicitly recognized as such in the specific provisions of the Constitution including Articles 14, 19, 21, 22 and 39A of the Constitution as well as the various provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Cr.P.C).
The right to fair trial is also explicitly recognized as a human right in terms of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which has been ratified by India and which now forms part of the statutory legal regime explicitly recognized as such under Section 2(1)(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
Violation of a right to fair trial is not only a violation of fundamental right under our Constitution but also violative of the internationally recognized human rights as spelt out in the ICCPR to which India is a party.
Whenever a criminal goes unpunished, it is the society at large which suffers because the victims become demoralized and criminals encouraged. It therefore, becomes duty of the Court to use all its powers to unearth the truth and render justice so that the crime is punished.
It is, therefore, imperative in the interests of justice for the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, to lay down guidelines and directions in relation to protection of witnesses and victims of crime in criminal trials which can be adhered to both by the prosecuting and law enforcement agencies as well as the subordinate judiciary. This is essential in order to enhance the efficacy of the criminal justice delivery system.
The Commission has also filed a separate application under Section 406 Cr.P.C. before the Supreme Court for transfer of four other serious cases, namely, the Godhra incident, Chamanpura (Gulburga society) incident, Naroda Patiya incident and the Sadarpura case in Mehsana district, for their trial outside the State of Gujarat.