Former Gujarat Judge Says He Quit Over Government’s Anti-Muslim Bias

Himanshu Trivedi, former city judge in Ahmedabad in 2002-2003, and now a practising lawyer in New Zealand.

Himanshu Trivedi, former city judge in Ahmedabad in 2002-2003, and now a practising lawyer in New Zealand.

Activist Teesta Setalvad may have had a bumpy ride from the start in her attempts to fight for justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots but recent cases foisted on her by the Gujarat police and Central Bureau of Investigation are being widely seen as a last ditch attempt by the state to stop her in her tracks.

Teesta’s defenders say accusations of embezzlement and embellished accounts of what the CBI found when it raided her home are aimed at diluting the potency of the Zakia Jafri petition her organisation is now taking to the Gujarat High Court in its attempt to indict Narendra Modi for complicity in the 2002 violence.

In the wake of claims made by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders about Teesta being “anti-national”, a former judge of the Gujarat City Civil and Sessions Court has reached out to Setalvad with a letter of support and also disclosed how the allegedly anti-Muslim bias of the state government during the Modi years prompted him to quit his job.

In a Facebook post,  Himanshu Trivedi,  who was a judge in the City Civil and Sessions Court from October 2002 to May 2003 has explained the nature of events that enveloped the judiciary in 2002 and after. His post highlights the structural coercion that has been the reason why scores of victims have still not had the chance to get justice.

Trivedi was a former colleague of Jyotsna Yagnik, the judge responsible for convicting Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi for the Naroda Patiya massacre, before he resigned on moral and ethical grounds and emigrated to New Zealand. His post reads as follows:

“Teesta Setalvad. Hats off. I have always admired you and your courage and outspokenness on these issues. I also take this opportunity to state that I am indeed pained (and I am the one who had QUIT Gujarat’s Judiciary. I was a district cadre judge in Ahmedabad City Civil and Sessions Court – once a colleague of the bravest judge Ms Jyotsna Yagnik who handed out the judgments to Babu Bajrangi and Kodnani and now lives in fear of her life) … because they (the State of Gujarat) wanted us (the judges and the judiciary) of Gujarat to be acting against the minority community (albeit with no written orders but DEFINITELY communicated in loud and clear messages to us). I could not be part of it as I was sworn to the Constitution of India …”

In a subsequent email to Teesta, Trivedi revealed that there were many individuals who had communicated directly with members of the judiciary telling them to rule in a manner that would teach “these people” a lesson – a reference to the Muslim minority.

While Setalvad and Jafri intend to highlight before the High Court crucial information that they say the Special Investigation Team had ignored in giving Modi a clean chit for his role during the riots, Trivedi’s statements suggest the Gujarat state machinery was deployed to protect many of the perpetrators of the 2002 riots long after the violence had ended.

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  • jugglebandhi

    Good that he emigrated to New Zealand – where Modi and his state machinery can’t harass him. Makes you appreciate even more what Setalvad has achieved and is doing.

    • K M Ajir Kutty

      Ex-judge Himanshu Trivedi’s Facebook post tells us that the brave judge Ms Jyostna Yagnik who passed judgements to Naroda Patiya accused Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi lives in fear of her life… The SC judges who sat in judgement over Yakub Memon’s curative petition in the wee hours on 30 July also live in fear of their lives; reports say their security has been beefed up! Had true justice been the order of the day, none would ever have wanted to live in fear of their lives. Mr Himanshu Trivedi’s revelations must be an eye opener for us all.

      • jugglebandhi

        Absolutely. Liberal Indians need to speak out against all such RSS-inspired bigotry. We are a secular, peace-loving nation and must remain so.

  • Faiyaz Khan

    Is Judiciary is independent and free in India today?
    Trust of Indians on Judiciary is shaken?
    What about political interference in the judicial matter?

  • Prashant Kumar

    Every single word that this very high profile important judge has said is true. He didnt resign to go and serve a different country but because of `the pressure`. Also together with Sanjeev Bhatt and Teesta these are the only people speaking truth. Also the lives of all judges from district court to high court to Supreme court are in danger because when convicted Maya Kodnani would automatically appeal to higher courts who also will become a target for not giving relief.
    Rather than believing in Judicial system which has punished both Godhra train burners(muslims) as well as rioters, one must believe and publicise crackpots and their theories to prove why and how evil the democratic secular system of India is. Genius modern secularists.

    • dilip

      Private armies and privatised revenge have been the norm in India since before 1947. The national leadership named the RSS a private army (along with other communal paramilitaries) in late 1947. In the absence of a neutral criminal justice system, local pehelwans emerge as sikandars of this or that community (or a section of it). This is as true for Mahendra Karma as for Brahmeshwar Singh of the Ranvir Sena & Surinder Sodhi, Bhindranwale’s hitman.

      Bal Thackeray was named for incitement in 1992-3, and began his long career inciting riots against ‘madrasis’. God knows how much death and destruction he wrought – he was given a state funeral. His offspring continue his good work. Bhindranwale has an eternal flame in the golden temple, and is lionised all over Punjab – the BJP’s allies are implicated. Savarkar was the force behind Gandhi’s murder, and is a hero for the Sanghi’s. Temples are sought to be built for
      Nathuram Godse. A year ago, in mid July 2014, Togadia told Muslims “Aap Gujarat bhul gaye honge, par aapko Muzaffarnagar yaad hoga.” Will he ever be convicted for incitement?

      If you study the massacres and ‘riots’ since the 80’s
      No one is responsible for 58 deaths in Lakshmanpur Bathe
      No one is convicted for over 40 deaths in Maliana Hashimpura
      No one was hanged for mass murder of some 3000 people in Delhi in 1984.
      The Babri Masjid agitations of 1990 and 1992 resulted in 3000 to 4000 deaths and untold mayhem.
      The case drags on, no sign even of a trial one let alone punishment. Advani spearheaded the vicious campaign that resulted in so much violence, he’s a senior statesman now, even for the liberal lobby.

      The Wadhwa commission into Staines murder concluded that it was an individual acting alone, while all the appended evidence shows the opposite. The judge was deliberately deceitful.

      The RSS is clearly implicated in the 2007 Samjhauta express bombing, which killed 68 people. Yet the GoI is busy trying to scuttle the case, according to the public prosecutor, Rohini Salian. No one will be hanged for the mass crimes in 2002, nor 2008 (Kandhamal). In fact Jyotsna Yagnik is being threatened for having convicted Kodnani and Bajrangi, and her police protection withdrawn. Rohini Salian is asked to go slow with the Malegaon accused, witnesses in other such cases are
      turning silent. No one will be convicted for murders of Dabholkar and Pansare.

      In brief, from 1984 till 2008, tens of thousands of Indian citizens have perished at the hands of hooligans, with no little or sign of justice commensurate with the crimes committed. Yet our senior opinion makers still have us believe that our justice
      system ought not to be brought into disrepute. Who has brought it into disrepute? The much reviled secularists?

      This is a clue to why ordinary people mourn the passing of strongmen who take retribution into their own hands. Our polity is deeply communalised, more than we think. I personally heard communal venom from a HC judge in open court, in February 1985. Unless we start by acknowledging that something is seriously rotten here, things will only get more embittered, and more violent. This is the title – The Broken Middle – of an article commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of 1984. It might be of interest.

  • Himanshu Trivedi

    The political interference is a REALITY, the constant say against that is a MYTH…people however will get only the quality of which they are made….exceptions would only be proving the rules…I was a complete misfit…as I fought against corruption of every type….and had to pay a heavy price for that….the only thing I am happy about is, I did not compromise or succumb to normal pressures of pleasures in life etc. Otherwise, they make you “bend backwards” … thanks for all the comments and good wishes, humbled. I must tell that I have not done anything extraordinary, I have been stating the facts as I have known for a long time, since long time…there is however, now seemingly an audience interested in knowing these things – I have been telling this since 2002 February and thereafter.

    • M Bhushan

      Himanshu, having been a part of Indian judicial system, why don’t you expose how the system is actually influenced by politicians in real ways? Explain the techniques and methods (sometimes even legal but not moral or ethical) by which judiciary is coerced into taking a position favoring establishment.

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  • Sujad Syed

    From one from the same legal fraternity, I salute you Mr.Trivedi. I’d surely like to meet you when I visit ANZ in 2016!

    • Himanshu Trivedi

      please do visit me personally Sujadbhai. It shall be a pleasure. Life has much more beauty and good things as well … and we can forget bad things for a while and sincerely enjoy.

  • ps

    Begs a question why his colleague was able to send kodnani to jail, as there must have been pressure to stop her…no ?

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  • md nazeem

    mr. trivedi. what u say only strenghtens the belief indian muslims have. slowly but surely the system in india favors a few selected indians (majority). even qualified indian muslims have no place in indian society. this is as u put it is not in writing but most people have an implicit understanding to not give any jobs to indian muslims even if they have outstanding qualifications and want s to serve the indian community. the irony of all this is that indian non muslims would rather suffer rather than seek the services of muslims whether it is an engineer, architect, doctor etc.

    • alrazi

      Stop wallowing in self pity. While i don’t deny that there is discrimination in society, it is ridiculous to say that “most people have an implicit understanding to not give jobs to muslims” . In todays world the margins are so low and the quality demands are so high that any worth while company will hire anyone who has the right skills. For a change get out of the local ghetto and see the world where there are plenty of opportunities if you are willing to try.

      • Hindusthani

        I recommend this post.and it applies to every one who thinks he is being discriminated.

  • alrazi

    While i appreciate that you did not acquiesce to unreasonable demands, it is hard to digest your running away from a responsibility . I do not know what kind of pressures were put on you and i might have done the same thing as you but quitting was undoubtedly an act of cowardice that probably let down many of the victims.

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  • Rabindra Nath Roy

    Narendra Modi had been from the very beginning against judiciary considering the process of fair justice as stumbling block for his politics. from the day onesince he became CM of Gujrat he did not allow the Lokayukt to function and the rest is known to every one and then the Gujrat Riot which he managed to get out of at the cost of lives of those who were to be protected by the very person Modi under oath to constitution. I salute Himanshu Trivedi for a very time support to Teesta that goes to prove the Narendra Modi’s anti muslim bias which is seen for the Indian and protests being led by the writers. Of course hats of to Teesta whose determined effort will one day book Narendra Modi and Amit Shah duo to the justice.