Making an ass of our law
by Krishen Kak on 24 Dec 2008 2 Comments

The law is a ass” said Mr. Bumble famously in “Oliver Twist.” The law is made by legislators, so that begs the question whether an asinine law presupposes asinine legislators.  Ditto for law-interpreters and law-enforcers.

The point arises because the Honourable Supreme Court of India – lawmaker, interpreter, enforcer – appears to have been taken for a long asinine ride – and it is unclear whether it has realized this. The less charitable may say it’s been made an ass of or, worse, it’s made an ass of itself – but we may consider that unsaid for fear of contempt of the honourable court.

Readers will recall the tremendous “secular” uproar after the acquittals in the Best Bakery case by the trial court. Eminent Nehruvian-secular individuals and leading Nehruvian-secular NGOs went international over what the National Human Rights Commission rushed to label a "miscarriage of justice.”  In a spectacular display of "secular" grandstanding, the NHRC violated the law that established it and went directly to the Supreme Court that played along, pontificating about rajdharma, to the great glee of our Nehruvian-secularists

Briefly, what happened was that Zahira Shaikh’s testimony in the Vadodara fast track court led to the acquittal of 21 accused persons. Soon thereafter, the lady dramatically surfaced in Mumbai and, on the platform of Citizens for Justice and Peace, claimed that this testimony “was inspired by fear.” Months later, she fell out with mentor Teesta Setalvad and accused her of manipulating her testimony in court. The Nehruvian secular establishment understandably, and the Judicial establishment for reasons known only to itself, accepted one testimony and disregarded the other – of the SAME witness. Now, as other witnesses come forward and attest that the Citizens for Justice and Peace made them sign false affidavits, the fat is truly in the fire!

At the time of the first volte face, however, the Nehruvian-secularists believed that they had the Supreme Court on their side, and thus, the official version of The Truth.

The Gujarat High Court had, in a well-reasoned judgment, upheld the Best Bakery acquittals. As The Pioneer noted editorially,

All have reason to salute the Gujarat High Court judges who have felt it to be their duty to set the record straight.....the court has hinted at a "conspiracy to malign people by misusing" Zaheera who could "play into the dirty hands of anti-social and anti-national elements.” Nor has it minced words about the negative role played by journalists and NGOs in "attempting to set up a parallel investigation.”  It has also expressed concern that the State's judiciary and "the system as a whole" were targeted because excessive publicity given to a perjurer made her an overnight celebrity courted by rent-a-cause human rights champions..... The NHRC seemed incapable of resisting the temptation to play to the galleries, demanding transfer of all riot-related cases outside Gujarat while blinking at a perjurer's lack of credibility. The Chief Justice of India told the Narendra Modi regime to quit or uphold "Rajdharma.” And “secular” scribes and activists had a field day ("Best case,” The Pioneer, 15 Jan. 2004).

But the trial court decision was called a "miscarriage of justice" by the National Human Rights Commission. The Supreme Court described the acquittals as a "travesty of truth"
( and, in a public and stinging slap to the High Court, ordered re-trial outside Gujarat.

The Pioneer
again noted editorially that

the order is a vote of no-confidence against Gujarat's entire judicial machinery. Ironically, the High Court, dismissing the Modi Government's prayer for retrial, had voiced "concern" over "a definite design" to target "the system as a whole.” It could hardly have conceived of a gravely anomalous situation in which it would have its own integrity doubted by the nation's highest court of appeal. The SC has not passed an insignificant stricture against a lower court. The Gujarat High Court itself stands demeaned - for no other reason than having discharged its duty in a manner prioritising national interest, based on its view that Best Bakery hinged on a self-confessed perjurer who could well be a tool in the hands of stakeholders in social unrest. It may be asked if the SC wishes to imply that Gujarat's judges are so spineless and susceptible to 'political pressure' that they can deliver judgment s tailor-made for supposedly venal politicians. In the popular perception, certainly, its order represents the judiciary's indictment of itself, one to be set right only by assuming guilt - in advance.  For, the apex court has unambiguously suggested that an official conspiracy was afoot to 'protect' the killers of innocent women and children. It would follow that no verdict but of 'guilty' could lay Best Bakery to rest, that the charge of institutional collusion needs no further verification and that culpability may be established without concrete, and credible, evidence - all because a key prosecution witness changed her story at will, that too only after the Vadodara court gave its verdict. With its Gujarat counterpart painted as incapable of dispensing justice, the Maharashtra judiciary seems to have been issued a virtual directive on how to deal with Best Bakery ("Trial by ire,” The Pioneer,14 April 2004).

Note that the case rested on a self-confessed perjury, with the perjurer's (Zahira Shaikh) own lawyer believing she had taken money to change her story. Yet, as The Pioneer editorial noted, this was enough for the Supreme Court to issue what was virtually a directive to the Maharashtra courts to convict the accused on the basis of false testimony.

Nehruvian-secularists presented Zahira Shaikh as a victim manipulated by Hindu forces.  Nehruvian-secularism used Shaikh as a pawn in its own communal game. But Shaikh's own sister-in-law called Shaikh a liar and Shaikh’s maternal grandmother said "we want that she should be hanged" for changing her character and altering her statement ("Zaheera wasn't threatened, says sister-in-law,” The Pioneer, 21 July 2003; 

At a workshop in Gurgaon on 8 Dec. 2003, “eminent” Nehruvian-secular and ex-JNU professor T.K. Oommen informed participants of a group on "Conflict & Reconciliation" that he'd personally interviewed Zahira Shaikh’s lawyers and one of them had told him he was convinced his client had taken money to change her story

This “eminent” Nehruvian-secularist urged us that the first step towards reconciliation is the telling of the truth, but he himself kept publicly silent that he knew Shaikh lied, advising us it was (wink! wink!) secularly expedient to do so. Ms Shaikh's lawyer had no qualms defending a person he was satisfied is a liar, and no Nehruvian-secularist raised any questions about the perjury because it was secularly expedient not to do so. 

Teesta Setalvad and Nehruvian-secularists promoted the perjurer Zahira Shaikh as a secular icon in much the way Harsh Mander had been promoted. Zahira Shaikh is a liar, a former colleague of Harsh Mander called him a liar
(, and a former colleague of Teesta Setalvad is now exposing her as one.  

Consider the evidence.

Zahira Shaikh committed perjury at the instance of Teesta Setalvad. Nanu Miyan Malek and Madina Pathan have admitted perjury at the instance of an NGO called “Citizens for Justice and Peace.” CJP was represented by founder-trustees Teesta Setalvad and Rais Khan Pathan.  Madina Pathan received Rs 5 lakhs in compensation

Concerned citizen H. Jhaveri painstakingly investigated that the CJP with the CPI (M) had distributed a substantial amount of money to at least 10 witnesses in various post-Godhra trial cases. CPI (M) was represented by Brinda Karat and the CJP by Teesta Setalvad and Rais Khan Pathan. Karat engaged in some fancy footwork to distance herself from Setalvad & Co., and Pathan declared he was merely obeying Setalvad’s orders

Ironically, from the same Gujarat police he once villified, Pathan now seeks protection from death threats and worse that he has allegedly received from Setalvad. Recall that Zahira Shaikh’s mother Seherunissa Shaikh had called Setalvad a "goondi,” and Zahira Shaikh herself had accused Setalvad of terrorising her into changing her story
"Zahira's mother turns hostile,” Times News Network, 15 Dec. 2004, 11.42.24 pm).  

Take the Citizens for Justice and Peace. Curiously, it has two websites and it shows different founding members/board of trustees on them. They include corporate types and such noted Nehruvian-secularists as Alyque Padamsee, Anil Dharkar, Fr. Cedric Prakash, Javed Akhtar, Javed Anand, Teesta Setalvad, Vijay Tendulkar - with Rais Khan Pathan on one ( but not the other; that has retired Gujarat IPS officer R.B. Sreekumar instead (  

Anand is Setalvad’s husband; Akhtar crafted Sonia Gandhi’s notorious “maut ka saudagar” speech; the late Vijay Tendulkar notoriously said that if he had a pistol, he’d shoot Narendra Modi, and Sreekumar has openly joined those whom he supported while in service. All the trustees are in law as culpable as their colleague Setalvad in the strong prima facie case of fabricating affidavits and bribing witnesses.

Setalvad's Sabrang (that publishes “Communalism Combat") is not, as popularly believed, an NGO, but a private limited company, intended to earn money and make profits.  Scroll to the bottom of the “about us” page of both CJP websites and click on “home.”  Till the time of this writing, they opened onto Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Clearly CJP is a front for Sabrang.   

H. Jhaveri and Rais Khan Pathan have raised a flagpole of suspicion that points sharply at Setalvad & Co. for the suborning of witnesses

Given Setalvad’s reach and connections, this has to be just the tip of the iceberg. That wide-scale lying is a professional characteristic of Nehruvian-secularists is already a matter of detailed public record

The Supreme Court, referring to the high court acquittal, declared that “in this case, `the justice delivery system was allowed to be taken for a ride, abused, misused and mutilated by subterfuge’,” and it deleted the High Court’s criticism of Teesta Setalvad

Yet, as is now increasingly apparent, who actually allowed the judicial system to be taken for a ride? And who allowed itself to be taken in by Teesta Setalvad’s subterfuges

If the prescient Gujarat High Court now feels itself vindicated, all-too-charitably it is not saying so publicly.  

The promoters of Zahira Shaikh began by exculpating her flip-flopping – e.g., in Mumbai she claimed “that her testimony in the Vadodara fast track court that led to the acquittal of 21 accused persons was inspired by fear;” after falling-out with Setalvad, Zahira accused the latter of  “tutoring her to give a certain type of testimony in the court” (Sandhya Jain, “The strange case of Zahira & Teesta,” She was, her promoters said (without a shred of evidence), a victim of the Gujarat government's devilishness (e.g., Devi Cherian, "Slap On The Face Of Justice,” The Pioneer, 14 Nov. 2004; S. Varadarajan, "The latest act in the tragedy that is Zahira,” The Hindu, 23 Dec. 2004). 

But as Shaikh (and related and unrelated others) continued with their claims of Setalvad's goondigiri, these Nehruvian-secularists then accused Shaikh of "making a mockery of the legal process" (editorial, India Today, 3 Jan. 2005). The Pioneer noted editorially that "those who, out of their own axe-grinding folly, glorified a perjurer as the protector of her qaum are now demanding she be hanged for perjury!" ("Tragedy as farce,” The Pioneer, 25 Dec. 2004)  

But who is it who has really made a mockery of the legal process?  Setalvad?  The NHRC?   Or the Honourable Supreme Court itself?  

Who chose to believe in Shaikh rather than its own high court?  The Honourable Supreme Court of India.  

And who took Shaikh to this Honourable Court?  The NHRC and Teesta Setalvad.

And who believed Setalvad, simply because of who she is?  The Honourable Supreme Court of India.  

It is the same Honourable Court that found itself "in a piquant situation to find that no affidavit signed by Zahira was presented before it in the entire period when it dealt with the case" (“SC Orders Probe into Best Bakery Testimonies,” Indlaw News, Jan 10, 2005).

Indeed, not just before the Honourable Supreme Court; “an affidavit submitted to the NHRC in the name of Zahira was actually signed by Teesta Setalvad [and] the NHRC discovered that the 600-odd pages of documentation filed by Setalvad's Citizens for Peace and Justice, did not contain a single signature by Zahira
(  Yet the Honourable Court had allowed itself to be persuaded by the NHRC and Setalvad and by Shaikh’s perjury – but then found only Shaikh guilty of legal misdeed.    

Should not the Honourable Court question the motives of Setalvad and the NHRC that brought this perjurer to it? 

Should not the Honourable Court question Setalvad about her NGO's demand – a direct reflection on its own judicial capability – that the judicial process itself should now be outsourced to NGOs (Sandhya Jain, "Zaheera rattles secular `fixers',” The Pioneer, 16 Nov.  2004)?

Should not the Honourable Court take cognizance of the published report alleging Dawood Ibrahim’s link to the Best Bakery case, an allegation indirectly and partly given credence to by the concerned State Chief Minister (“Don tried to poison Best Bakery accused, says CM,” The Times of India, 15 Dec. 2004)? 

Should not the Honourable Court ask from where Setalvad got all that money to promote and support Shaikh and family, for the number of her own foreign trips and (given the nature of threats Rais Khan Pathan reported) for any connection between the Sabrang company and the D-company?

Should not the Honourable Court inquire into the allegation that Setalvad made money by "selling the documents prepared by her on Best Bakery case" and “by selling the Bakery case abroad” (

Should the Honourable Supreme Court now find itself taken for "a ride" by a rider (or riders) at whose behest it publicly and juridically slapped a High Court; whom has it to blame other than itself?  It punished Shaikh, but not Setalvad who had suborned Shaikh – and, as it turns out, others too. The Gujarat High Court is proved right. Should not the Honourable Supreme Court question its own gullibility?

The Pioneer aptly suggested the NHRC rename itself the National Terrorist Rights Commission (8 Nov. 2002). The Pioneer used “Best Fakery” to describe the goings-on in the Best Bakery case (6 Nov. 2004).  And Mr. Bumble called the law an ass.

It is this context of money-grubbing chicanery, duplicity, pseudo-secularism and downright dishonesty that throws up Teesta Setalvads and Zahira Shaikhs. But Setalvad, sophistical, survives, because the Nehruvian-secular system is sophistical too; Shaikh, unlettered in such sophistry, exposes and is then condemned by it.

So Teesta Setalvad gets away with making an ass of our law.

The author is a retired civil servant and co-editor of “NGOs, Activists & Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry” (Chennai: Vigil Public Opinion Forum, 2007)


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