Thursday, Sep 04, 2003
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By Our Legal Correspondent
Responding to the notice issued by the apex court on the NHRC's petition, the State Government said the NHRC "appears to have been carried away by the campaign orchestrated by a section of the media casting aspersions on the functionaries of administration of justice".
It said that if such a petition was entertained by the apex court, it would set a bad precedent having wide repercussions on the criminal cases pending throughout the country.
In the "Best Bakery case", neither before nor during the pendency of the trial any of the witnesses had ever complained to the police or the Government about threat or coercion extended to them.
"It appears that the so-called threat or coercion to Zahira Habibullah Shaikh (key witness) and her mother Seharunnisha Shaikh came to the knowledge of the Government only through media report," the counter said.
Referring to the court's direction ordering protection to the witnesses and their families, the State Government said there were about 1,187 witnesses in the nine cases mentioned in the NHRC's petition and the police had complied with the direction. However, most of the witnesses refused to accept protection for the time being but had asked for protection to be provided at a later stage.
Questioning the maintainability of the NHRC's petition, the Government said that when the appeal filed by it was pending before the High Court, this appeal "does not survive". It pointed out that the Government had substantially accepted the NHRC recommendations. While so, the prayer to lay down guidelines for the protection of witnesses and victims of crime in the criminal trial was a prayer to enact a new law and thus asking for the remedy not provided under any law, the counter said and sought dismissal of the petition.
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