A special court, which has completed trial in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case, will deliver its verdict after the Diwali vacation in November.
The Supreme Court had last week lifted the stay on the pronouncement of judgment in the case probed by the Special Investigation Team. It had also cleared the way for verdicts to be delivered in seven other cases of riots that followed Godhra. Each case is being heard by a different court.
The apex court had earlier restrained the trial courts from pronouncing any verdict till it decided on the allegations that the prosecution was influenced by the state government and was biased.
Fifty-nine people were killed after the Sabarmati Express was set on fire near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002, triggering massive communal riots across Gujarat. More than 1,200 people, mostly Muslims, were killed across the state in the following months.
In all, there were 135 accused, of which 96 were tried in special courts for various charges including criminal conspiracy and murder.
The police had named Muslim cleric Maulana Umerji and Godhra municipality president Mohammad Hussein Kalota as chief conspirators. Bilal Hazi and Razak Kurkur, who owned Aman Guest House where the conspiracy was allegedly hatched, were also charge-sheeted.
“The trial court has examined 254 witnesses of the prosecution besides other evidence like forensic and medical reports,” said a lawyer representing one of the accused.
Unusually, there is not a single witness for the defense side in the case.
“We don’t have any witness in the case. Our main argument is that the accused are being falsely implicated by the police as those named by them were not present at the site when the incident occurred,” the lawyer said.