The Gujarat High Court today issued notices to all 27 convicts of the Ode area massacre cases, on two different appeals filed by state government seeking enhancement of their punishment from life imprisonment to death penalty.
This is the first case where the state has asked for the death penalty in any of the post-Godhra rioting cases, which were probed by Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
In the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage, on March 1, 2002, a total of 26 people were killed in two separate incidents of violence at the Pirawali Bhagol and Malav Bhagol areas of Ode town in Anand District.
After the completion of the trial, designated judge Poonam Singh, on April 9, 2012 had convicted 23 accused and on April 12 had awarded life imprisonment to 18 of those convicted for the killings of 23 people in Pirawali Bhagol.
On May 4, 2012, special judge RM Sarin had awarded life imprisonment to nine convicts of the case in which three people were killed in the Malav Bhagol area of Ode town on March 1, 2002.
Following the delay of almost 40 days, beyond the statutory 90 days to file an appeal, the Gujarat government has filed two separate appeals in the High Court with the prayer for condonation of delay.
"In both the appeals state has demanded the enhancement of the punishment awarded to all 27 convicts of both the cases from life imprisonment to the death penalty," said special public prosecutor for the state JM Panchal.
The division bench of Justices RR Tripathi and Paresh Upadhyay today issued notice to all 27 convicts and asked them to file their replies on whether delay should be granted or not and fixed the further hearing on October 10, 2012.
The court had already admitted the appeals of all these convicts on July 9, 2012, who demanded to set aside the special courts' order for their conviction.