Is there a legal avenue through which the cases can be moved out of Gujarat, as the victims are now demanding? "Technically yes. If the Supreme Court wants, it can take suo motu cognisance of the case and move it to a court outside Gujarat,'' says former Bombay High Court judge Hosbet Suresh. Adds Prashant Bhushan, senior Supreme Court lawyer: "Zaheera's point is correct. Given the situation in Gujarat, it is impossible to expect a fair trial. But the high court is not authorised to transfer trials from within its own jurisdiction.''
Even though the apex court is seized of the matter, there is no precedent in Indian legal history where a case has been moved out of a state. But there could well be a first time. Currently there are four public interest litigations (PILS) lying with the apex court. These include the PILS filed by artiste Mallika Sarabhai, Gandhian Devendrabhai Pathak, writer Mahashweta Devi, represented by ngo Action Aid and its head Harsh Mander, and one filed by journalist Kuldip Nayar and activist Teesta Setalvad, among others.