Godhra train burning case: SC to hear pleas of Gujarat govt, convicts on March 24
The bench adjourned the hearing after it was apprised that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, was then unavailable
The Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear on March 24 the appeal of the Gujarat government and the bail pleas of several accused who are serving life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, meanwhile, directed the counsel for the Gujarat government and the convicts to provide a soft copy of the consolidated chart containing details such as actual sentences awarded to them and the period spent in jail till now.
The bench adjourned the hearing after it was apprised that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, was then unavailable.
"We will have it on Friday," the bench said.
On February 20, the state government had told the top court that it will be seeking award of death penalty to 11 convicts whose sentences in the 2002 Godhra train burning case were commuted to life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court.
"We will be seriously pressing for award of death penalty to the convicts whose death penalties were commuted into life imprisonment (by the Gujarat High Court). This is the rarest of rare cases where 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive," the solicitor general had said.
"It is consistent everywhere that the bogey was locked from outside. Fifty-nine died, including ladies and children," he had added.
Giving details, the law officer had said 11 convicts were sentenced to death by the trial court and 20 others granted life term in the case.
The high court upheld total 31 convictions in the case and commuted the death penalties of the 11 convicts to life term, Mehta had said.
On February 27, 2002, 59 people were killed when the S-6 coach of the train was burnt at Gujarat's Godhra, triggering riots in the state.
The state government has come in appeal against the commutation of death penalty into life term for 11 convicts, Mehta said. Several accused, he added, have filed pleas against the high court upholding their convictions in the case.
The top court has granted bail to two convicts in the case so far. Seven other bail pleas are pending adjudication in the matter.
The bench noted that a large number of bail applications have been filed before it in the case and said, "It has been agreed that the AORs (advocates-on-record) on behalf of applicants along with advocate Swati Ghildiyal, standing counsel for Gujarat, shall prepare a comprehensive chart with all relevant details. List after three weeks."
The Supreme Court had on January 30 sought the Gujarat government's response on the bail pleas of some of the convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the case.
The court issued notice to the state government on the bail pleas of Abdul Raheman Dhantia alias Kankatto and Abdul Sattar Ibrahim Gaddi Asla, among others.
The state government, on the other hand, said it was not "merely a stone pelting" case as the convicts had bolted a bogey of the Sabarmati Express, leading to the death of several passengers on the train.
"Some are saying their role was just stone pelting. But when you lock a bogey from outside, light it on fire and then pelt stones, it is not just stone pelting," the solicitor general had said.
On December 15, last year, the top court granted bail to Faruk, who was serving a life sentence in the case and noted that he had been in jail for 17 years.
Faruk, along with several others, was convicted for pelting stones at a coach of the Sabarmati Express.