Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed a sessions court in Godhra, Gujarat, to hear the bail pleas of 85 accused persons in the Godhra train carnage-related cases afresh and dispose of the applications expeditiously.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari asked the POTA court in Sabarmati, Ahmedabad, to transfer the cases to the sessions court within a month.

The Bench said only matters relating to offences under the IPC would be heard, without any reference to the POTA charges.

The Gujarat government invoked provisions of POTA against the accused and the cases were pending in the POTA Court. A POTA Review Committee held that no prima facie case was made out for invoking the POTA charges. The Supreme Court, in its October 21 judgment, held that the recommendations of the review committee were binding on the government and the POTA charges, therefore, could not be invoked.

In its brief order, the Bench said the POTA Court should transfer the cases to the sessions court, which should proceed with these cases as if it had taken cognisance of the offences. It should hear the bail applications and decide on merit, untrammelled by observations, if any, made by the High Court or the apex court in earlier proceedings.

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