Gujarat High Court commutes death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment

Last Updated: Sunday, October 8, 2017, 23:35
Gujarat High Court commutes death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment
The Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts in the Godhra train burning case to life imprisonment the 2002 Godhra train burning case. The Gujarat High Court ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of those who died in the tragedy. The court upheld the death sentence of 20 other convicts. The court said that the state government failed to maintain law and order.

High Court bench was led by Justice AS.Dave and Justice GR.Udhwani. The hearing in the case went on for 29 months and the media was kept out of the courtroom throughout the hearing.
This came after a set of appeals were filed challenging convictions and acquittals by a special SIT court in the 2002 Godhra train burning case. Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was burnt on February 27, 2002 at the Godhra station, triggering riots in the state. Fifty-nine people, mostly ‘kar sevaks’, were returning from Ramjanmabhoomi in Ayodhya in the said coach.

The special SIT court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Several appeals were filed in the High Court challenging the conviction, while the state government had questioned the acquittal of 63 people.

The SIT Court, while describing the Godhra train burning incident as a rarest of the rare, noted that the crime was executed through a well-planned conspiracy. The court’s observation was based upon the finding of the Gujarat government-appointed Nanavati Commission, which concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach was not an accident, but it was set ablaze.

All 59 people were killed in the train burning incident on February 27, 2002. Their murder sparked a wave of communal violence in most parts of Gujarat. At least 1,000 people were killed in the riots and more than 3,000 injured. According to civil rights’ activists, more than 50,000 people were displaced from their homes.
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