Citizens' Issues
HC acquits five in Best Bakery case, upholds life term to four

The Bombay HC acquitted five accused in the 2002 Best Bakery case for want of evidence but upheld the conviction of four others sentenced to life term by the trial court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday acquitted five accused in the 2002 Best Bakery riots in Gujarat case for want of evidence but upheld the conviction of four others sentenced to life term by the trial court, reports PTI.

A division bench comprising Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode, who had on 3rd July reserved the judgement on the appeals filed by the accused against the trial court verdict, upheld the life sentence of Sanjay Thakkar, Bahadur Singh Chauhan, Sanabhai Baria and Dinesh Rajbhar.

The judges relied on the statements of four injured witnesses, all workers of the Best Bakery, who had identified the accused and said they were present at the place of the incident armed with swords and other lethal weapons during the post-Godhra communal riots.

The bench, however, overturned the trial court order and acquitted Rajubhai Baria, Pankaj Goasvi, Jagdish Rajput, Suresh, alias Lalo Devjibhai Vasava, and Shailesh Tadvi, saying there was no evidence against them. The judges said none of the witnesses had attributed any role to them during the riots.

The division bench had commenced day-to-day hearing in the appeals filed by the nine convicted accused in March this year.

On 1 March 2002, two days after the Godhra carnage, a mob had attacked Best Bakery in Vadodara, looting and burning it down and killing 14 people. The mob targeted the Muslims inside, including the Sheikh family which ran the bakery.

Three Hindu workers employed at the bakery were also killed.

Of the 17 accused, nine were convicted and sentenced to life by a special court in Mumbai in 2006. The nine had then approached the High Court challenging the order.

In a twist to the case, one of the witnesses Yasmeen Shaikh had filed a petition in the High Court stating that she was "lured and misguided" into giving false testimony against the 17 accused by social activist Teesta Setalvad. She sought her evidence to be recorded again at the stage of appeal.

The court had, however, said it would first hear and decide on the appeals filed by the convicts.

Teesta too later filed an intervening application asking the court to hear her view while deciding the appeals.

The court will pronounce its order on the applications filed by Shaikh and Seetalvad later.


“Facebook, Twitter apparently feed anxiety: Study”—Oh Really?

Barely have people begun to understand social media—its diversity and utility—and we have doubters already popping up with ‘studies’ to warn against social media addiction

A survey by the Salford Business School of Manchester is being shared, tweeted, posted and circulated rapidly on the internet because of its headline grabbing finding that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter feed anxiety and make people feel inadequate. Oh really? According to the study, over half of 300 odd people surveyed said "their lives had been altered for the worse" and their confidence fell after comparing their confidence to those online.

And that's not all that they are cribbing about-51% said that social networking sites had changed their behaviour negatively. Nearly 70% found they had issues with their relationships at their workplace after being 'confrontational' online. Ironically, while 55% said they found social media addictive, this apparent 'addiction' seems to be contradicted by the finding that over 60% felt compelled to turn off their cell phones, BlackBerrys and computers to take a break or that a third switched their devices off several times each day.

To my mind, the study seems to have gathered a strange bunch of 300 persons, who seem 'predisposed' to anxiety and probably feel the same sense of insecurity at school gatherings or public places, where there are bound to be others with different and better skills. Why wouldn't the same people also feel an equal degree of insecurity or anxiety-watching some of the reality or skill shows? Frankly, watching stupendously talented children in singing and dancing contests these days. What about the little MasterChef contestants that ended recently? At that age, most Indian middle class and rich parents in nuclear families, probably don't allow children to even touch knives, light gas stoves or go to school alone. So do these kids give the world an insecurity complex? Do we all go into collective depression and blame television media?  

The Salford school survey is the man-bites-dog kind of conclusion of this survey of just 300 persons, which has ensured that it finds a place in every newspaper today and is still being zipped around cyberspace and replicated on innumerable blogs and sites.

If the survey had concluded that  social media, with all its warts, has expanded our universe like never before-in a jiffy, it takes us back in time, re-connects with the past, allows us to find people around the world with similar thoughts and interests and opens our mind to diverse interests, skill-sets, knowledge levels, new paradigms and it gives us the choice of active interaction and participation or the freedom to remain a silent observer (the social media term is lurker, but its not such a bad thing to lurk and keep ones mouth shut)-would it have caused a stir? No, because those benefits are already evident.

Social media primarily connects people with common interests. It is an incredible communication tool, influencer and opinion maker, but it has a long way to go before people, social groups or companies even begin to understand how to use it effectively.

Indeed, we have hundreds of books, blogs and consultancy firms raking in big bucks by claiming they understand how to use social media effectively, but in our experience, most people are clueless. Some of the more honest, "social media" experts admit that they are also trying to learn and figure it out. One of them told us-"Google and Facebook themselves haven't yet figured out the neural networks that form and this is evident in the number of times that they change their algorithms". The fact that nobody has a clue is great news for 'social media' consultants who can confidently throw jargon and offer solutions without any clear metric. Also, since clicks, views, likes and even followers can be gamed so easily, and the gaming is rampant-it is almost impossible to judge what works and what flops.

In terms of news and views, social media is bypassing old-fashioned metrics such as eyeballs/TRPs for television and readership in the print space. Television and its stars actively use social media to promote programmes and increase viewership. Similarly, print publications that use the social space smartly are increasing their reach manifold-primarily through Twitter and Facebook. But the advertising world has still to catch on. There is no integrated readership/viewership study yet, which can provide estimates of true combined influence. And until that happens, we will be influenced by random surveys.




4 years ago

Duration - 3 mins
Film - Facebook Fuss (Edited & Directed by - Parimita Barik)

Link -

Optional Link -

The spread of Social Media and its access have raised a number of questions and posed challenges, socially and legally. The argument is that uncontrolled access to Social Media by minors could cause various kinds of problems -innocent and impressionable minds may be affected, cheated or compromised in certain ways. It may provide unsupervised access to facts and other kinds of information that minors are too young to properly evaluate and make decisions on. Is this indeed the case? If it is, are legal, technical and social mechanisms available to help parents and minors make appropriate decisions on accessing social media? Given that mobile devices are all-pervasive, how can such controls actually be implemented?

Is it possible for the Indian Government or its instrument agencies to regulate who opens an account on a web site. There are thousands of places that ask for user data. People open accounts everywhere all the time. FB is just one kind of social media platform. Is it possible for the Government to demand enforcement on such? And how? How can we check the credential of whoever is creating an account?


Rajkumar Singh

5 years ago

Any thing in excess is harmful. But if the over all benefits of both are concerned, they have been giving a lot.

In another way, I'd say that it has revolutionised & made the communication much easier & faster.

It has now the power to draw the attention of anyone, be it the government, in a jiffy & cheapest way.

GAAR panel for modification of norms, reduction of examples

The draft guidelines has provided 21 examples to illustrate the applicability and non-applicability of the GAAR, which now would be reduced or combined

New Delhi: Finance Ministry's committee on controversial tax proposal General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) on Monday decided to modify the draft guidelines by reducing the number of illustrative examples, reports PTI.

The next meeting of the GAAR panel, which comprises officials of the Finance Ministry and representatives of foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and other stakeholders, will be held on 12 and 13 August.

"The GAAR committee met today and discussed the examples (given in the draft guidelines)... some examples will be reduced, some will be combined", said a senior Finance Ministry official after the meeting.

The draft guidelines has provided 21 examples to illustrate the applicability and non-applicability of the GAAR, which was proposed by former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to check tax evasion by foreign investors.

The provisions, however, invoked sharp criticism from the foreign and domestic investors, following which the government decided to postpone its implementation by one year to April 2013. The Ministry had also constituted a committee to look into the concerns of investors.

The Committee last month came out with draft guidelines on GAAR to seek comments from various stakeholders.

Among other things, the draft norms provide for a threshold limit for invocation of GAAR. It also clarified that the norms would apply to income accruing only after 1 April 2013.

The draft guidelines, however, got caught in a controversy following a release by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) which said the Prime Minister had yet to see them.

"These (draft guidelines) have not been seen by the Prime Minister and will be finalised with the approval of the Prime Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, only after considering the feedback received," the PMO had said in a release barely 12 hours after the draft norms were released by the Finance Ministry on 28th June.


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