In a damning censure of the Hindu nationalist government in the state, Chief Justice V N Khare on Friday said the Supreme Court has lost faith in its willingness in bringing to book the culprits. 

"I have no faith left in the prosecution and the Gujarat government to bring to book the guilty," an angry Khare quipped.

The chief justice also called on the Gujarat government, run by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to resign if it could not enforce the law.

"You quit if you cannot prosecute the offenders," Khare said, as he heard petitions relating to the riots.

The chief justices harsh pronouncements came after a trial court in Gujarat had acquitted 20 Hindus charged with killing 12 people in a bakery, for lack of evidence.

The Gujarat government has appealed against the acquittal before the Supreme Court, but the chief justice said the appeal was merely an 'eyewash'.

Murderous Riots

"I have no faith left in the prosecution and the Gujarat government to bring to book the guilty"

V.N.Khare
Chief Justice

The 12 men killed inside a bakery in the city of Baroda were among the 1000-odd Muslims officially killed in the religious riots that rocked the province last year.

Violence had erupted between Hindus and minority Muslims after 59 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive in a train, allegedly by a Muslim mob.

Khare's observations came as he heard petitions filed by the independent National Human Rights Commission and a witness seeking a fresh trial of the bakery killings outside the state of Gujarat.

Many Muslims in Gujarat say they have no hope of getting justice in the state that re-elected the BJP government in 2002 after the riots.

The Muslim-campaign against the state has further stiffened Hindu sentiments and Gujarat, an otherwise prosperous province, remains polarised on religious lines.