Retrial of 2002 Best Bakery case demanded

Mumbai: A former aide of activist Teesta Setalvad has moved the Bombay High Court seeking retrial of the 2002 Best Bakery case alleging that the latter not only fabricated evidence and falsely implicated innocent persons but also "managed" the witnesses.

Rais Khan Aziz Khan Pathan, in an affidavit, urged the High Court to direct an appropriate court in Mumbai to conduct retrial of the case and record his evidence. Khan, former coordinator of the Citizen for Justice and Peace, the Mumbai-based NGO headed by Teesta, requested that notice be served on Teesta to explain her conduct and clarify allegations of fabricating evidence in the case.

Khan even demanded lie detector and polygraph tests on himself and Teesta to "bring out the truth". The affidavit assumes significance as in April 2011, Shaikh Yasmeen Banu, a key prosecution witness in the case, had also filed an affidavit in the high court alleging she was "lured and misguided" by Teesta into giving false testimony against the 17 accused, of which nine were awarded life term by a Mumbai court.

Fourteen people who had taken refuge in the Best Bakery owned by the Shaikh family in Vadodara in Gujarat were killed by a mob on March 1, 2002, during the post-Godhra riots.

The appeals filed by the nine convicts in the sensational case are pending in the Bombay High Court. Khan contended that on instructions of Teesta, he had in the past met Yasmeen in Baroda and requested her to shift to Mumbai where the retrial of the case was in progress.

Yasmeen in her affidavit had accused Khan of cheating her and other witnesses for personal gains, which was denied by him. Khan contended that he used to get funds from Teesta to organise press conferences for riot victims and meet relevant expenses.

He alleged that getting payment for the victims was never Teesta`s priority as she was only concerned to ensure that the witnesses get money.