Godhra train carnage: 11 spared from death, get life
In a relief to 11 convicts of the infamous Godhra train carnage, a Division Bench of Justices Anant S Dave and GR Udhwani of the Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted death penalty to life imprisonment. Fifty-nine kar sevaks were charred to death when marauders set S6 coach of Sabarmati Express on fire near Godhra Railway station on February 27, 2002.
The burning of the coach ensued in one of the worst communal riots in different parts of Gujarat in which at least 1,000 people died.
In this case a special trial court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 and acquitted 63. Of the 31 convicts, 11 were sentenced to death and 20 were given life in prison. Initially, 130 people were accused of the Godhra train carnage. Of
the total accused, 94 stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy.
The verdict of the special court was challenged in the Gujarat High Court by the convicts. The High Court heard the petition and kept its sentence reserved for last two-and-a-half years. On Monday, the HC refused to change the verdict on acquittal of 63 accused. The Division Bench also upheld life imprisonment for 20 out of 31 convicts. The court has also ordered compensation of Rs 10 lakh to kin of Godhra train carnage victims.
The Gujarat High Court dismissed an appeal by the Gujarat Government against the 63 people who were acquitted. The Nanavati Commission — appointed by the Gujarat Government to probe the train burning — in its report had concluded that the fire was not an accident, but a conspiracy and that the coach was set ablaze by a mob.
A number of appeals in front of a division Bench in the High Court had challenged the convictions and acquittals that were handed out in the case by the trial court.
Meanwhile, lawyer of the victims —Vijay Patel — reacted that there seemed to be some discrepancies in the investigations. Nothing can be done about the way it was investigated but even with this investigation if the court has found a conspiracy in the incident hence there was expectation for strictest punishment, said Patel indicating to approach the Supreme Court.
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