Gujarat opposes in Supreme Court bail pleas of some convicts in Godhra train burning case

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta said these convicts threw stones on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra which prevented people from escaping the burning coach

December 03, 2022 06:03 pm | Updated 06:03 pm IST - New Delhi

Fifty-nine people died in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train in 2002.

Fifty-nine people died in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train in 2002.

The Gujarat Government has opposed in the Supreme Court the bail pleas of some convicts of the 2002 Godhra train burning case, saying they were not merely pelting stones and their acts prevented people from escaping the burning coach.

On February 27, 2002, 59 people were killed when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, triggering the riots in the State.

Also read: 14 sentenced to life in Gujarat Ode killings case get interim bail from SC

The matter came up for hearing on Friday before a Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha.

The apex court, while asking the State to specify the individual roles of the convicts, observed that bail pleas of those who were accused of stone pelting could be considered as they have already spent 17-18 years in jail.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Gujarat, said these convicts threw stones on the train which prevented people from escaping the burning coach.

Also read: Bilkis Bano case: Eleven convicts walk out of jail

“It is not a case of mere stone pelting,” he told the Bench.

Mr. Mehta told the Bench that appeals filed by the convicts in the top court against the October 2017 verdict of the Gujarat High Court, which had upheld their conviction in the case, could be listed for hearing.

He told the Bench that he would examine the individual roles of these convicts and apprise the Bench about it.

The Bench has posted the matter for further hearing on December 15.

Also read: We were victims of politics, says Bilkis Bano case convict day after being freed

In its October 2017 judgment, the High Court had commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence awarded to 11 convicts in the Godhra train burning case.

It had upheld the life sentence awarded to 20 other convicts in the case.

On November 11, the apex court had extended the period of interim bail granted to one of the convicts until March 31, 2023.

It had noted that on May 13, the top court had granted him interim bail for six months on the ground that his wife was suffering from terminal stage cancer and his daughters were differently-abled.

In its November 11 order, the Bench had noted that having due regard to the situation which continues to subsist, “we extend the period of interim bail until March 31, 2023 on the same terms and conditions”.

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