Special court rejects theory of pre-planned attack

Drops conspiracy charges; declines plea for consecutive sentences instead of concurrent terms; widow of slain Congress MP terms verdict ‘disappointing’

Updated - October 18, 2016 12:58 pm IST

Published - June 18, 2016 12:17 am IST - Ahmedabad:

Gulbarg Society case convicts are being produced at a special court, in Ahmedabad on Friday. Photo: Vijay Soneji

Gulbarg Society case convicts are being produced at a special court, in Ahmedabad on Friday. Photo: Vijay Soneji

The judge at the special trial court on the 2002 Gulbarg Society killings on Friday rejected the submission of the prosecution as well as the lawyer for the victims seeking consecutive sentences instead of concurrent terms for the 24 persons convicted in the case. Sentences for the 24 convicts were announced on Friday.

“All the sentences will run concurrently as the Supreme Court has laid it down clearly that if the crime had single purpose, sentences given for different sections of IPC should run concurrently,” the court held.

‘Lighter sentence’

Meanwhile, Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri, described the court verdict as “disappointing” and said that the accused have got away with “lighter sentence” despite the fact they had “roasted” people alive in the housing society.

Earlier on June 2, the court had convicted 24 persons while acquitting 36 in the case after a protracted trial that had begun in 2009. A total of 66 persons were charge sheeted of whom five have died during the trial while one person is still missing; a former area police inspector and a local BJP leader were among the acquitted.

The court had also dropped conspiracy charge in the case as it did not find the attack on the society as “pre-planned conspiracy.”

Remaining case

The Gulbarg Society killings was one of the worst incidents of the 2002 riots in Gujarat. This is the eighth of the nine cases that the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had probed and trial was monitored by the apex court. The only remaining case where the trial is underway is Naroda Gaam massacre case.

The trial saw many twists and turns and controversies from the beginning, prompting the Apex Court to stay its trial along with other most crucial cases after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) filed a petition challenging the investigation by the Gujarat police.

SC-appointed SIT

In 2008, the apex court had constituted and SIT to reinvestigate the nine cases and special designated courts were set up for trial.

The court completed the trial in September 2015 but was restrained by the Apex Court from pronouncing its verdict. Subsequently, the Apex Court directed the trial court to pass the verdict by May 31.

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