'Act like a Hindu': Retired Bombay HC judge Abhay Thipsay claims he received threats during Best Bakery case

Retired Bombay High Court Justice Abhay Thipsay said on Thursday, in an interview to Mumbai Mirror, that he used to receive many persuasive letters from people, asking him to “act like a Hindu” during the Best Bakery case.

Thipsay, who was suddenly transferred to Allahabad from Mumbai a few months before retirement, said that in the letters he was assured that the entire Hindu society would back him if he acquitted the accused and told him this was an opportunity to take “revenge”. Thipsay in the interview claimed to have received even threatening letters, however, he said that the persuasive letters outnumbered the threatening ones.

Retired Bombay High Court Justice Abhay Thipsay. Image Courtesy: Allahabad High Court

Retired Bombay High Court Justice Abhay Thipsay. Image Courtesy: Allahabad High Court

Thipsay has been involved in many high-profile cases, the one involving Jignesh Shah being one of them. The Economic Times reported thati in the historic Best Bakery case retrial, his judgment led to the conviction of nine and reinforced faith in the judicial system, many said.

In March 2002, a mob attacked the Best Bakery in Vadodara during the post-Godhra riots and burnt it down, killing 14 people. After the Vadodara Court acquitted a few of the accused, the Supreme Court had ordered a retrial in Mumbai.

Thipsay, while claiming that he'll never know the reasons for his Allahabad transfer, refuted rumours alleging his judgement granting bail to Salman Khan in the hit-and-run case as the motive behind it.

According to The Wire, the justification of bail to actor Salman Khan then was that normally when an appeal against conviction is admitted and the sentence is under seven years, it is suspended and bail has to be granted pending hearing of the appeal which will otherwise be rendered pointless.

The Wire further reported that the popular perception in the high court was that Justice Thipsay was transferred because some of his judgements in high-profile cases went against the government.

Thipsay said that the transfer caused him great grief, which had apparently come for no good reason at the fag-end of his career.

Thipsay who had acquired a reputation for being an uncompromisingly independent judge, also shared his views on Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), stating that it was a badly drafted law and that its provisions are ambiguous.

It has a draconian provision: making confessions to the police admissible as evidence. That’s why it is often wrongly applied even to crimes under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Such laws are not necessary if the prosecution and the judiciary do their job professionally.

Speaking about Muslims being framed for terror, Thipsay said that the prejudice against them existed across police and judiciary.

"I’ve seen some prejudice even among my colleagues sometimes, while working in the subordinate judiciary.

Further elaborating on many instances of Muslims being framed for serious offences with no satisfactory evidence, Thipsay said the trouble lies with agencies like the ATS or the Special

They work in too centralised a manner. Investigation is carried out by top officers, and sanction is also needed from a very senior officer. Often, they cannot get hold of the real culprits, or, cannot find evidence against them. But the State cannot accept that no one is arrested for such serious crimes. It then becomes much easier to keep a record of petty criminals and arrest a few of them.

Thipsay concluding the interview said that while the judicial system is flawed and marred with drawbacks, he believed that it still remains the last resort for justice. But he advised that there must be more transparency in the process of appointments for getting better people as judges at all levels.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Apr 16, 2017 13:13:14 IST

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