Vol – XLIX No. 3, January 18, 2014 | Arvind Narrain

The judgment in the 16 December Delhi rape case imposed the death penalty based upon the depravity of the offence and the demands of the “collective conscience of society”. On the other hand, in the Naroda Patiya judgment in the case of the rapes and murders of Muslims in this part of Gujarat, the court held that it cannot go down the route of giving the death penalty but preferred a graded system of life imprisonment based upon the degree of culpability of the different offenders. The latter is a new way of thinking about the logic of punishment. Justice Jyotsna Yagnik rejects the retributive logic and forces us to explore deeper questions about unthinkable violence, responsibility and punishment.

Arvind Narrain ([email protected]) is a lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum.

Impunity has been the order of the day when it comes to violent crimes against women in India. While cruelty enacted on the bodies of women is quotidian in its nature, what is exceptional is when this violence is brought before the court and the court recognises this violence and accounts for it. The judiciary has failed in numerous cases to ensure that those responsible for horrific crimes against women are brought to account. Emblematic of this deep and tragic failure is the Mathura rape case where the Supreme Court (SC) refused to even acknowledge the sexual violence inflicted on women’s bodies.

In the light of this history, the judgment in the Delhi rape (which occurred on 16 December 2012) case was exceptional in counteracting this impunity for crimes against women by finding the accused guilty.1 How rare this conviction is emerges from the fact that the judge in the case, justice Yogesh Khanna, had only two conviction orders in the 203 cases of rape he had heard from 1 January 2009 to the day of the Delhi judgment.2

However, even as we acknowledge the importance of breaking the cycle of impunity for violent crimes against women, there remain troubling questions about how we punish the accused. Should the turn away from impunity mean that we embrace the death penalty for the accused? Are there ways in which we can acknowledge the gravity of the violation and think of a graded and nuanced punishment which takes seriously the violation without embracing the death penalty?

To think about the issue of punishment in the context of unimaginable violence this article will trace out the very important but relatively little studied judgment (compared to the Delhi rape judgment) delivered by justice Jyotsna Yagnik in a case involving the murder of 96 Muslims and the rape of Muslim women during the Gujarat pogrom. The judge in this case finally comes to the conclusion that for this crime of mass murder and rape, the 32 accused should be given different gradations of punishment ranging from imprisonment for 14 years to imprisonment for life. Is there something one can learn from the judgment in the Naroda Patiya case (as it is familiarly known) when it comes to thinking about the issue of both crime and its punishment?

Naroda Patiya Case

On 28 February 2002, following the Godhra train incident, in the locality of Naroda Patiya, a violent mob systematically went about the task of murdering and maiming Muslims, raping Muslim women and destroying Muslim places of worship and Muslim houses. The orgy of violence which went on throughout the day was accomplished using deadly weapons and to the accompaniment of slogans which can be roughly translated into meaning “slaughter, cut, not a single miya should be able to survive, Jay Shri Ram”. The destruction concluded with the burning of members of the Muslim community (the living as well as the dead bodies were set aflame).

In the case finally before justice Yagnik (State of Gujarat vs Naresh Agarsinh Chara and Others),3 what was on trial were the series of incidents over the course of the day which resulted in the death of 96 Muslims, serious injuries to over 124 Muslims and the rape of Muslim women. What was also on trial was the criminal responsibility of Mayaben Kodnani and others for the conspiracy to commit the said offences. During the course of the trial 327 witnesses were examined and 2,392 documents were produced. The charge sheet listed offences ranging from conspiracy, murder, gang rape and causing grievous hurt to forming of unlawful assembly. The entire process of accessing justice right from filing the first information report (FIR) to ensuring a fair trial was an uphill struggle. In fact it was only the intervention of the SC which resulted in a relatively fair investigation. Because of all these difficulties the struggle of the victims of Naroda Patiya continued for 10 long years. It was only in August 2012 that a 1,969 page judgment was delivered by justice Yagnik convicting 32 people for the above mentioned offences.

The Judge’s Reasoning

Overcoming Procedural Hurdles: The substratum of the order’s reasoning is a keen awareness that this is an extraordinary case. The case had been sent back for fresh investigation by none other than the SC and the facts of the case had to do with an extraordinary breakdown of law and order. Considering this scenario the judge was inclined to look differently at procedural issues which can often stymie the struggle for justice.

First, with respect to the fact that investigation itself was faulty, the judge asserted the principle that “defective investigation, that too a deliberate defective investigation or deliberately kept loopholes are no ground for acquittal”. The judge constructed a mental picture of the days of the massacre and was able to empathise emotionally with the situation on 28 February 2002. The judge observed

the picture was so gloomy and sad that the complaints of the Muslims were not taken…It seems that the entire negligence, lighter attitude, carelessness in the investigation, insensitive attitude towards victims and their agonies etc. all was surely aimed at to see to it that at the end of the entire investigation if not all statements, then at least of majority witnesses should be saying that, ‘they do not know any member of the mob’.

Second, the crime was difficult to prove as there was no corpus delicti, i e, no body was recovered. This flows from the fact that integral to the crimes committed at Naroda Patiya was the throwing of persons (both dead and alive into the flames). As one eyewitness observed, “four women of the society came there who were giving kerosene to the men of the mob and those women were telling that ‘kill these people and then burn them’”. Taking this problem, which is often integral to the nature of mass crimes into account justice Yagnik by drawing on case law found that, “recovery of dead body is not necessary and it is held that conviction for murder does not necessarily depend upon Corpus Delicti being found”.

Third, justice Yagnik is also not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused though none of the deadly weapons used during the carnage were recovered by the police. As she succinctly put it“The evidence shows that most of the accused were armed with a deadly weapon and are guilty of rioting being armed with a deadly weapon. The weapon is not actually recovered from them, but it is immaterial in the circumstances.”

Eyewitness Accounts as Basis of Conviction: The evidence which forms the heart of the judgment and is the basis of the convictions is really the eyewitness accounts. The eyewitnesses in this case have all suffered grievous loss with some of them actually seeing their family members being killed. The demeanour of eyewitnesses who have suffered so much trauma is observed by the court. It notes that

during the deposition many of the witnesses were finding it very difficult to control (rolling down) their tears (on their cheeks). They were eager to show their burnt limbs, their injured limbs and explain their losses to the Court. Many of the parent witnesses were unable to describe about the death of their children in the riot, they became so emotional that very often needed to be consoled and offered a glass of water to complete their deposition.

In the absence of almost all other forms of forensic evidence, recovery of weapons, etc, it is the eyewitness testimony and the reliance placed upon it by the judge, which forms the basis of the Naroda Patiya convictions.4 This judgment at its heart is really about the courageous testimonies of witnesses who persisted in their quest for justice despite overwhelming odds. The witnesses went ahead and testified to the almost unbearable loss they had suffered despite continuing intimidation. A particular example of this form of courageous truth telling is the testimony of prosecution witness (PW) 158 an extract of which is given below:

Here several people were cut and killed like entire family of Kudratbibi, Jadi khala, her two daughters-in-law, family of the PW, family of Kausharbanu, the family of maternal aunt of Kausharbanu, brother-in-law Salam of Gauri Appa, etc. At this time, his wife Zarina, daughter Fauzia, cousin Abdul Aziz, Haroon, Yunus, wife of Yunus jumped the wall, they were cordoned by the people, his wife was dragged by four men, she was attacked, her left hand was cut off by sword, her right hand was attacked by sword, her head was injured by sword, she was given hockey blow in her leg, her clothes were being pulled and torn off, not a single cloth remained on her body, she was made naked…
Even at the water tank, there was screaming of ‘kill-cut’, all the men of the mob have attacked different persons with the weapons in their hands, four women of the society came there who were giving kerosene to the men of the mob and those women were telling that ‘kill these people and then burn them’, he knew the four women since they were purchasing bakery products which he used to sell. Even he was also battered by acid bottles on his right hand, flesh came out from his right hand, he was also injured, he had also sustained injury on his hand, hip and head, the clamours of only ‘save, save and save’ were heard, the mob has killed his mother Abedabibi, sister Saidabanu, daughter of sister Saida – Gulnaaz, Jadi Khala, Kudratbibi, their family members by pouring kerosene and burning them…
They learnt about survivals of their relatives and met each other…
The witness felt that their house, their world were all ruined, he added that ‘even today I get knee jerks and I am shaken, upon remembering, I feel I am very upset and will undergo brain haemorrhage on remembering the occurrence of that day.’
His wife told him about the occurrence with her, they were so helpless that they had to shut their mouths, they were giving statement but, were not knowing as to what they were saying and what they were missing, the PW could not identify the four who dragged his wife…

The testimony speaks to a collective dimension of violence involving an orgy of murder and rape. The chilling aspect of the testimony emerges from the number of defenceless people who the witness testifies to having been killed. The violence is sexualised with the clothes of the women being pulled off thus leaving them naked. The deeply personal and humiliating sexual nature of the violence is hinted at with the witness saying that his “wife told him about the occurrence with her, they were so helpless that they had to shut their mouths”. The consequences of this almost overwhelming violence are literally world shattering as the witness notes that on remembering, “I feel I am very upset and will undergo brain haemorrhage on remembering the occurrence of that day”. It is on understanding the various dimensions of the violence as well as the impact on the victims that their incredible courage shines through again and again.

The Honesty of Extrajudicial Confession: The sting operation conducted by Ashish Ketan of Tehelka resulted in videographed interviews with three of the accused in the Naroda Patiya case.5 All three interviews were treated as extrajudicial confessions under Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act. The extrajudicial confessions were the other piece of evidence implicating both those making the confession as well as the other accused in the crimes committed at Naroda Patiya. They were cited in the judgment and need to be quoted in part as they throw light on numerous aspects of the crime.

The gist of the confession of Babu Bajrangi:

I shall not stop working for Hinduism until I die. I have personal notions about Hinduism. I have no fear even if I am hanged. Now, there won’t live any Muslims in India. The moment I saw corpses lying in Godhra, that very night I had decided and challenged that, ‘There would be four times more slaughter in PATIYA than that of GODHRA.’..I have two enemies, the Muslims and the Christians…
We slaughtered Muslims, Patiya is half kilometer away from my house. I and the local public were there to do the massacre at Patiya. If one would go to Godhra, one would be provoked and would determine to kill all the Muslims then and there. We retaliated at Patiya. In Patiya, we had secured the highest death toll.

The gist of the confession by one Suresh was:

If fruits (saying for girls) were lying, the hungry would eat it. In any case, she (the Muslim girl) was to be burnt hence somebody might have ate (eaten) the fruit.
Two to 4 rapes or may be more, might have been committed. Who would not eat fruit? In whatever number Muslims are killed, it is still less. I would not leave them. I have too much of rancor (malice) against them (Muslims). Even I had also raped one girl, who was daughter of a scrap man (one who is in business of scrap) – named Nasimo, she was fat. I raped her on roof and then thrown (threw) her from there. I smashed her, cut her to pieces like ‘achar’ (pickle).

These extrajudicial confessions describe in great detail what exactly the accused did that day. More importantly, they give us a direct insight into the minds of the accused. If there were doubts as to whether the rapes took place that day, it is set at rest by Suresh’s casual description of the act of rape and murder of a Muslim woman. Both confessions give chilling evidence of the deep motive underlying the killings. It is the hatred of the Muslim community which is at the root of the orgy of violence against them. The confessions give us a hint that the crime is not one which can be contained within ordinary criminal law as the intent is not only to murder or rape as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) describes it but rather the intention to eliminate the hated race, the Muslims. The crime executed by the mob is nothing less than what is referred to as the “crime of crimes”, i e, genocide.


Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Rioting, Unlawful Assembly, Inflict Grievous Hurt: In a large mob it would be close to impossible to prove the individual culpability of each of its members for every one of the offences committed. What serves to connect the various actions of the mob to one another legally is the law on conspiracy which requires proof that the various members of the mob had a prior agreement to do a series of illegal acts. If there is such a prior agreement then the various members of the mob are responsible for all the actions undertaken by anyone who is a part of the mob. The judge finds that there was indeed an agreement among the members of the mob. The finding is that

the accused were tremendously over charged with the idea to take revenge with the Muslim Community as a whole and they were totally out and had clear objects in their minds of doing away with maximum Muslims and to destroy, damage and demolish their religious place and property.

Rape in the Context of Mass Violence: The problem justice Yagnik faced regarding the offence of rape was that there was very little evidence left. The chilling extrajudicial confession of Suresh wherein he brags about having raped a woman called Nasimo and then cutting her into pieces provided an insight into the methods of the killers. The methodology was clearly rape followed by murder and burning. Hence, there was very little surviving evidence of the original crime. The only place where the evidence of the crime survived was in the memory of the perpetrators as well as that of the victim survivors. The undoing of impunity for rape was really the fact that Suresh felt impelled to boast about “raping Nasimo”.6 It is this extrajudicial confession which the judge uses to convict him of the crime.

Further, the history of mass crimes of the nature of that were perpetrated at Naroda Patiya is closely tied to sexual crimes. In fact mass crimes and sexual violence go hand in hand and we owe a debt of gratitude to justice Yagnik for making that connection clear through the appreciation of evidence. However nobody else was convicted of rape as she did not see the conspiracy hatched on 28 February 2002 as including the commission of the crime of rape. This is mystifying, particularly since she has very clearly delineated the acts of rape committed in the course of the murderous assault and quite clearly rape emerges as an integral part of the conspiracy both from the eyewitness testimonies as well as from the extrajudicial confessions.

However justice Yagnik was very clear that the crime of rape was committed. The eyewitness testimonies combined with the extrajudicial confession are sufficient to arrive at the conclusion. She understood the reason the victims wanted to testify about a crime in which the perpetrator was unknown. Zarina testifies to being “attacked by four men and that she was gang raped there. She testifies that four men had attacked on her with the help of sword, string of her petticoat was cut off and that a severe sword blow was given on her hand by the attackers. Having nakeded her, she was gang raped.” However Zarina was unable to identify the attackers. The judge concluded:

When PW-205 is not implicating any of the accused, it is clear that she does not have any other intention in her mind for narration of this incident, except ventilation of tremendous violation of her human right and constitutional right before the Court. The loud cries of such victim of crime if not heard by the system, it is mockery of justice. Here, it sounds quite fitting to record the deep concern of the Court about violation of human rights and constitutional rights of the victim who was subjected to gang rape.

In giving a dignified hearing to Zarina’s tale of horror and woe she understood a very deep aspect about justice. It is very important that the victims be heard and be believed. The pain of those who have suffered unbearable loss needs to be acknowledged. This acknowledgement of pain and loss can itself begin the process of healing.

The judge went on to order compensation for Zarina in full recognition that “no compensation in fact, is weighty enough to wipe out the permanent scar, effect and impact on the mind of the victim of the crime of gang rape”. Rather the compensation is a recognition that, “the Court is concerned with the commission of crime primarily since that is to take care of subsistence of Rule of Law. The international concern for the impact of sexual offences against women guide this Court that this victim needs to be compensated.”

The Judgment: Bringing a Sense of Closure? The brutality of the crimes can be deduced from the intentional killing, maiming, raping and then burning the victims. If the “iron rod” emerged as a symbol of brutality in the Delhi rape judgment, the phrase repeated by justice Yagnik, “grilled meat” to refer to the ruthless burning of Muslims both dead and alive symbolises the horror of Naroda Patiya. The other image which dominates and in fact emerged as the emblematic horror story of the Gujarat pogrom was the ripping apart of the stomach of the pregnant Kausar Bano by Babu Bajrangi.

Justice Yagnik was able to acknowledge the horror suffered by the residents of Naroda Patiya. She understood that the reason that even after 10 years the victims in spite of all odds were still pursuing the claim to justice was related to a deep-rooted need to right the balance. The wrong which was done had to be righted, before one could even attempt the process of closure. Justice Yagnik demonstrates a sensitivity in understanding the context of communal violence when she says, The Court is not sitting in (an) Ivory Tower.” It is this appreciation of the context of a communal mass crime which ensures that defective and complicit investigation is not allowed to checkmate the quest for justice.

Even when there is no possibility for conviction she understood that victims needed to be heard. The process of empathetic hearing itself7 combined with the judgment brought about some measure of closure to a horrific chapter in Indian history.

What is apparent is also that the evidence before her far outstrips the narrow limits of the crimes defined in the IPC. The offences committed on that day were not only acts of murder and rape committed against individuals persons. In its deepest sense they were crimes committed with the avowed intent to eliminate in whole or in part the Muslim community in Naroda Patiya. As such the crime was really what is referred to as the “crime of crimes”, i e, genocide, a crime against a collectivity which is not recognised by Indian law.

Delhi Judgment and the Naroda Patiya One

The horrors of the Delhi 2012 and Gujarat 2002 are of two different orders. Yet there is no gainsaying that they both portray chilling and brutal violence inflicted with impunity upon the bodies of women. The question is, how did the court deal with the reality of extreme and outrageous acts when it comes to the question of awarding punishment?

The sentencing part of the judgment in the Delhi rape case gives the extreme penalty of death to all the five accused. The logic the judge adopts is that the extreme depravity of the offence brings it within the Bachan Singh formula of the rarest of the rare, and hence makes it a fit case for the award of the death penalty.8 The aggravating circumstances of this “brutal, grotesque, diabolical, [and] revolting” crime far outweigh the mitigating circumstances of “youth, socio-economic circumstances clean antecedents and reformative approach”.

Justice Khanna also articulates the need for awarding the highest penalty in terms of both deterrence and retribution:

These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant and courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes…
The subjecting of the prosecutrix to inhuman acts of torture before her death has not only shocked the collective conscience but calls for the withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around the convicts….Accordingly, the convicts be hanged by neck till they are dead.

In the sentencing part of the Naroda Patiya judgment the judge sees with immense clarity the harm that the accused have inflicted.

The 96 persons were killed mercilessly in a day and were reduced to grilled meat without any stimuli or provocation on their part. Among the deceased victims, there were women, old persons, helpless kids and even crippled person. About 125 victims have been found to have been victims of crime of hurt, grievous hurt, attempt to murder, etc. Among these helpless 125 persons there was even an infant aged 20 days.

The proved facts of murder and rape committed on the grounds of religion go beyond any ordinary crime of murder and rape. As justice Yagnik puts it:

In a country like ours, discrimination on the ground of religion or enmity or hatred for any religion is a taboo. Taking lives of persons just because those persons are having faith in another religion is bound to be dangerous and it strikes at the very root of the orderly secular society which the founding fathers of our Constitution dreamt of.

Then she goes on to dismiss the question of extenuating circumstances raised by the accused including family responsibilities, young age and lack of criminal antecedents. The judge observes,

Their submission for their family responsibilities, small kids, health of their spouse, they being the only breadwinner, etc, cannot be considered in absence of accessing their role based on the proved facts of the case. How it can out of the mind that the loud cries of the victims for the help and mercy if have not appealed to the heart, mind and soul of the accused, then, it itself is an important consideration. The proved fact reveals of throwing children in the flames of fire was the most shocking part….

The judge discusses the punishment of death penalty making two contradictory points, that the death penalty “serves the purpose of deterrence” and that death penalty “undermines human dignity”. The judge then concludes that,

In the facts of the case, when alternative to death penalty is available, it is better to embrace the same. There are ways to address this violent crime in a more constructive way in which precious lives were lost in a barbarous attack launched by the assailants.

Based upon this understanding she awards a graded punishment wherein Babu Bajrangi is given imprisonment for the rest of his natural life, Maya Kodnani is given imprisonment for 18 years, seven other accused are given a minimum sentence of 21 years and 22 other accused are given life imprisonment.

Rethinking Punishment?

The sentencing part of the Delhi rape judgment imposed the death penalty based upon the depravity of the offence and the demands of the so-called “collective conscience of society”. The sentencing part of the Naroda Patiya judgment did not minimise the offences committed and in fact found that in offences so serious there were no extenuating circumstances. Yet the court held that it cannot go down the route of giving death penalty but preferred a graded system of life imprisonment based upon the degree of culpability of the different offenders. The logic of the court was “there are ways to address this violent crime in a more constructive way in which precious lives were lost in a barbarous attack launched by the assailants”.

This call by justice Yagnik gestures towards a new way of thinking about the logic of punishment. She rejects the retributive logic implicit in the argument about the “collective conscience of society” and forces us to explore deeper questions about unthinkable violence, responsibility and punishment.

The call to address, “violent crime in a more constructive way” is most compelling in the context of the public outrage and response to the Delhi rape incident. While there was anger on the streets, there seemed to be very little space for mourning. Would a politics centred on a collective mourning have changed the way we responded to the Delhi rape incident? Could there have been a shift from the angry insistence on the death penalty, if we had collectively spent more time on grieving for the life that had been lost?

When the judgment was delivered what was on display was the idea of punishment as a festival. The call of death for the rapists was a cry for revenge and when it was answered by the judgment there almost seemed to be a sense that the sentiment of the people was sated.

The question of how the public sentiment in favour of revenge can pervert the idea of justice is raised most compellingly by Hannah Arendt. In her analysis of the trial of Eichmann, Arendt is alone in her discomfort with the staged production of Eichmann as a symbol of radical evil. In her understanding he was at most a cog in the wheel of the bureaucracy of death that was the Nazi apparatus. She also expresses strong discomfort with a show trial, in which the collective conscience of the Jewish people has to be appeased, regardless of what a true notion of justice may demand. “Justice [according to Arendt] demands seclusion and it permits sorrow rather than anger”.9

It is sorrow which is conspicuously absent in the Delhi rape judgment and which permeates the Naroda Patiya judgment. Arguably it is the judge who is moved by the pain of the victim who is able to craft the idea that we need to respond in a “more constructive way” to “violent crime”. The judge, who expresses shock and horror only, goes along with a sentiment based upon revenge for the horrors inflicted as is the case of the Delhi rape judgment. The judge who is moved by sorrow is unable to view the perpetrators as “subhuman” in spite of the horrors they have perpetrated whereas the judge who is moved by the public sentiment of anger very quickly ends up viewing the perpetrators solely within the lens of the “less than human”.

The relationship of emotion and feeling to the process of judging and what accounts for justice is an important question. Surely justice must not only be a balm for past wounds but equally a gesture towards the future? The aim of justice cannot be to put to death a group of perpetrators while allowing the sentiment of evil which led to the wrong to continue unchallenged?

By questioning the logic of death penalty, the objective is not to minimise the hurt and harm suffered by the victim of the 16 December rape. In fact the violent attacks on her should deepen our sensitivity to human suffering and broaden our ethical horizons. It should sensitise us to the equally brutal suffering of Soni Sori and the innumerable dalit and adivasi women who suffer such brutalities.

The idea of justice should take individual suffering seriously but equally justice should be future oriented and must make a moral commitment that what happened to one individual should not happen to anyone else similarly placed.


State vs Ram Singh and Others, SC No 114 of 2013


3 Sessions Case Nos 235/09, 236/09, 241/09, 242/09, 243/09, 245/09, 246/09 and 270/09. Common judgment.

4 The recent acquittal of all the accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre was based upon the high court discrediting the eyewitness testimony. What is singularly absent from the Laxmanpur Bathe judgment is an acknowledgement that a mass crime is an extraordinary situation which demands a measure of sensitivity from the judge and an awareness that in a situation of mass crime, there will be procedural lapses which however should not be allowed to pervert the course of justice. Further the credibility of eyewitnesses need to be assessed with respect to their demeanour and the fact that they are victims as well, a point the Court misses totally. See State of Bihar vs Girija Singh and Others, Death Reference No 5 of 2010.

5 The sting in the story, http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main53.asp?filename=Ne080912 Coverstory.asp, accessed on 16 October 2013.

6 What is it in the psychology of the perpetrator that urges him to undo his own safety by bragging about his unspeakable crimes? Hannah Arendt explores this question in the context of Adolf Eichmann who post the holocaust, found refuge under a false name in Argentina. But during his exile, ‘his only compensation consisted in talking endlessly with members of the large Nazi colony, to whom he readily admitted his identity’. It was finally one such interview with a Dutch journalist which resulted in the Israelis getting to know about his whereabouts and what followed was his abduction, trial and hanging. See Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (London: Penguin Books), 1994, p 238.

7 Ashish Ketan in his account of giving testimony in the Gujarat riot related cases documents the contrasting ways in which witnesses were heard:

‘I got a full sense of the odds stacked against the victims in their quest for justice when I was summoned to depose as a critical witness in the Gulberg Society massacre case. The judge before whom I appeared was BU Joshi. A victim, Sairabehn, who had lost her only son in the Gulberg massacre, was humiliated by Joshi in the open court. When Rupabehn Modi – whose son went missing in the riots and on whose life the film Parzania was made – while recounting the events of the day broke down in court, Joshi didn’t even allow her to take a break or have a glass of water’.

The contrast to J Joshi could not be more striking:

‘I was called to testify in the Naroda Patiya case in December 2011. The trial was conducted by Judge Jyotsnabehn Yagnik. Not only was she completely impartial and fair in her conduct, she ensured that the defence did not humiliate me to entertain their clients seated in court, during the cross-examination. ‘Witnesses are the eyes and ears of my court. They come at my invitation and are the guests of this court. You may ask him whatever is relevant to your case but I will not allow you to insult him or make wild remarks about his character’, Judge Yagnik told the defence lawyer.’

Ashish Ketan, The Sting in the Tale, http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main53.asp?filename= Ne080912Coverstory.asp, accessed on 17 October 2013.

8 AIR 1980 SC 898.

9 Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (London: Penguin Books), 1994, p 6.


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