Gujarat government to press for death to 11 Godhra train-burning convicts | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Gujarat government to press for death to 11 Godhra train-burning convicts

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 21, 2023 05:44 AM IST

Opposing any leniency to those convicted in the Godhra train burning incident of 2002, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court on Monday that there cannot be a more serious case than this incident where 59 persons, including women and children, were burnt to death.

Opposing any leniency to those convicted in the Godhra train burning incident of 2002, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court on Monday that there cannot be a more serious case than this incident where 59 persons, including women and children, were burnt to death.

New Delhi, Jan 10 (ANI): A view of the Supreme Court building, the apex judicial body of India, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo) (Sanjay Sharma)
New Delhi, Jan 10 (ANI): A view of the Supreme Court building, the apex judicial body of India, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo) (Sanjay Sharma)

The Gujarat government sought capital punishment for 11 of the 31 persons convicted in the incident after their death sentences were commuted to life terms by the Gujarat high court in 2017.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, said, “In the cases where death has been commuted to life, we will seriously be opposing. There cannot be a more serious case than this where 59 people were burnt alive.”

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The incident took place on February 27, 2002 when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt, causing 59 deaths that triggered riots across the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud asked the state to provide details of seven of the convicts, which included cases of those sentenced to life as well as death commuted to life, who were seeking bail due to long incarceration of over 20 years, on medical grounds and other reasons.

The bench, which also comprised justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, wished to know if prisoners who had undergone minimum 20 years of imprisonment would be eligible for premature release under the state policy. Mehta said, “This is not such a case as the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) was invoked.” Under the state policy, TADA offences are not eligible for remission.

The matter was posted after three weeks to facilitate the lawyers appearing for the state and the accused to prepare a common compilation having details of each of the convicts, the jail time they had undergone, their age and any special considerations for grant of bail.

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The trial court had in March 2011 convicted 31 persons, of which 20 were awarded life sentences and 11 were to be hanged. The convicts claimed that their roles were limited to stone pelting while some were involved in purchase of petrol. The state saw the conspiracy by each member as a serious crime as the train bogey was bolted from outside before setting it on fire. To ensure nobody escaped, stones were pelted on the train.

In December, the top court released one of the convicts on bail as he had undergone 17 years in jail for pelting stones on the train. Earlier, in May, the top court granted interim bail to another convict, Abdul Rahman Dhantiya, after learning this his two daughters were mentally challenged while his wife suffered from a terminal illness.

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