The Naroda Patiya judgment…

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The Special Court upholds TEHELKA’s sting operations as valid and reliable evidence. Excerpts from the judgment:

The Sting Operation carried by PW 322 (Prosecution witness Ashish Khetan) on A-18 (Babu Bajrangi), A-21 (Prakash Rathod) and A-22 (Suresh Richard) has revealed that the offences were continued for the entire day and that what can be inferred from the conversation of the three accused is, along with three accused, there were A-2, A-20, A-37 (Maya Kodnani), A-41 and A-44 as well. Though for A-2, A-20, A-37, A-41 and A-44 these conversation solely cannot be the foundation to bring home their guilt, but it can be used as corroboration after marshaling all the evidence against the accused. In this Sting Operation, it is stated that A-37 visited the site of the offence in the morning as well as evening on the date.

(3.1) A-18 and A-22 have revealed that they hated the Muslims too much and are very much interested in doing away the Muslims. A-18 had even collected 23 firearms on the previous night as preparation for massacre. They are unable to give any explanation for what reason, they came to Muslim locality and remained there for entire day of the occurrence…

(3.2) This makes it abundantly clear that A-18 has made notable preparation for the massacre to terrorize Muslims, take revenge of Godhra incident of previous day, do away Muslims in more numbers than death toll at Godhra Railway (S-6) Carnage. A-18 seems to be very much committed and determined to do horrifying massacre at Naroda Patiya.

(5) This Court has viewed the relevant part of DVD and CD to test the defence raised. Almost all interviews of A-18 were recorded at his personal office where there were his men around, it was his area and the PW 322 has visited as guest. During every episode of the interviews, everything apparently seems to have been done voluntarily. The talks of A-18 with eye contact is not possible if one is merely reading the script. A-18 talks about many things including, his social activities (according to him) of saving Hindu women from Muslim men who were joined with wedlock. A-18 also talks about his firm conviction and his severe disliking and opposition for Muslims and Christians, quoting them as two of his enemies. During the interview, A- 18 was sitting on the main revolving chair in the room in a very resting posture, who talks with all vigour and the entire talk looks very natural. A-18 also talks about numerous police cases having been filed against him and that he draws the map of Naroda Patiya and explains to PW 322 as to how on the date of the incident, Muslims were cordoned, surrounded and how race murders were committed. From his talk, violence sounds to be extremely common and routine activity of his life. His association with VHP and Bajrang Dal, according to him, is of 22 years. During the interview, he attends phone calls, responds to a caller stating that a reporter from Delhi is sitting in front of him and that even while telling this, nothing looks like he was reading any script. He was not even remotely appearing to have been talking under some inducement. He was absolutely free and talking voluntarily. There was no element of any compulsion on his talk. His conversation was very natural. The relevant VCD are No.1, 4, 9, 11, 12 and 14. The gist of the entire conversation recorded in the VCD have been attempted to put in the capsule form herein below which is accused wise…

(6) In the opinion of this Court, extrajudicial confession in this case possesses a high probative value as it emanates from the person who commits a crime, which is free from every doubt. PW-322 before whom the confession was given by A-18, 21 and 22 is an independent and disinterested witness who bore no eminence against any of the accused. This extra judicial confession, in case of all the three accused is relevant and admissible in law under Sec.24 of the Indian Evidence Act.

‘This extrajudicial confession, considering the foregoing discussion on its merits, is found very dependable, reliable, having the contents full of probability and it is absolutely found safe to convict the accused on its basis’

In the instant case, PW-322 is not a person in Governmental authority or in any manner an authority. There is no ambiguity in the version given. The Hindutva in the three accused has been linked by PW-322 with his identity which he has assumed for the purpose of recording the sting operation. It is this identity and cordial relationship that has created tremendous high level of faith and confidence in the mind of the accused where they felt PW- 322 is their own person and their interest is same. The extra judicial confession of all the three accused does not lack plausibility and inspires confidence of the Court.

This Court is therefore, of the opinion that, though extra judicial confession in the very nature of things is a weak piece of evidence, but, in the instant case, in a very peculiar facts and circumstances, this extra judicial confession needs absolutely no corroboration. It stands proved with the substantial evidence of PW-322, the CD, VCD and the oral evidence of FSL scientist, etc. Hence, this extra judicial confession considering the foregoing discussion on its own merits, is found very dependable, reliable, having the contents full of probability and that it is absolutely found safe to convict the accused on this extra judicial confession.

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