The Gujarat High Court today ordered removal of Vadodara district government pleader Raghuvir Pandya over his record as a public prosecutor in the 2002 Best Bakery case.
Mere eligibility is not enough for selection as a district pleader, a chief law officer in the district, but his or her credentials and “institutional integrity” must be assessed, said Justice J B Pardiwala in his order.
Laxman Meghwani and two others had challenged Pandya’s appointment in May. They cited the Supreme Court order against Pandya which had termed him as unfit for the post in view of his performance in the Best Bakery trial.
“The public prosecutor appeared to have acted as defence counsel,” the apex court had said, while ordering fresh probe.
“Prosecutors are… One of judges’ natural counterparts in the trial proceedings,” the High Court said today.
“The issue has a direct impact on the judiciary. It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps. A nation is known by the judiciary it has,” it said.
“The worth of a nation is measured by its judiciary which is seen as the ultimate keeper of a nation’s conscience. Ours is such a judiciary. Let no harm be fall upon the judiciary in any manner,” said Justice Pardiwala.
The court also formed guidelines for appointment of prosecutors and government pleaders. There should be proper consultation among panel members for selection, opinions of district judge and district magistrate should be in written form, and the opinions should be open for judicial scrutiny, it said.
The court further ordered forming of a new panel for the selection of district pleader in Vadodara district court.
Petitioners had pointed out that Pandya’s mishandling of Best Bakery case — related to death of 14 persons at a bakery in Vadodara during 2002 riots — resulted in acquittal of the accused. At a re-trial in Mumbai, most of the accused were convicted.
( Source – PTI )