The 24 men convicted in the 2002 Gulberg society massacre case would be handed out punishments on June 17, a court said in Ahmedabad on Monday. The prosecution has sought at least life in jail for those found guilty of murder.
The special investigation (SIT) court had on June 10 fixed Monday as the next day of hearing after the two sides concluded the arguments on quantum of punishment.
The court had on June 2 found 24 people guilty, 11 of them of murder, in the 14-year-old case. Sixty-nine people, including former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, were killed on February 28, 2002 in the communal violence that swept Gujarat.
Justice PB Desai while acquitting 36 people, including alleged main conspirator and BJP councillor Bipin Patel, rejected claims that the attack on the predominantly Muslim residential area was planned.
The prosecution led by advocate SM Vora has asked for life imprisonment, if not death, for the murder convicts.
Arguing against capital punishment, the defence led by advocate Abhay Bhardwaj, called for lighter punishment. It based its arguments on the court ruling out the conspiracy angle.
A mob carrying weapons attacked the cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartments on February 28, 2002, a day after 59 Hindu activists were killed when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt in nearby Godhra. The massacre was one of the worst single incidents in the days-long riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, dead.
Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia had termed the judgment as “justice half delivered” and said she would move a higher court as the main conspirator had been set free.
The Gulberg case is one of the nine 2002 riot cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team.