The Supreme Court has asked the Government of Gujarat to respond on the bail pleas of few convicts who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train coach-burning case.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud was apprised by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on behalf of the Gujarat government, that it was not only the stone pelting case for which the convicts were punished but that they had bolted a bogey of the Sabarmati Express, leading to the death of several passengers on the train.
The top law officer told the bench, which also had Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala that although few convicts only claim to have been part of stone pelting, but the story is that they locked a bogey from outside, light it on fire and then pelt stones,not just pelted stone.
The Bench told the SGI that he may examine this as the court will list (the bail pleas) after two weeks.
The Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who appeared on behalf of some of the convicts, said the state government has filed appeals in the cases of certain convicts whose death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the Gujarat High Court.
The court had then given a notice to the state government on the bail pleas of Abdul Raheman Dhantia alias Kankatto, Abdul Sattar Ibrahim Gaddi Asla, and others.
The Apex Court on December 15, granted bail to convict Faruk, who was serving a life sentence in the 2002 Godhra train coach-burning case, noting that he was in jail for 17 years.
The plea was opposed by the SGI stating it to be offence of the most heinous type as 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive. Moreover, stones were hurled at fire tenders as well, who were trying to control the situation
The law officer had rather sought the hearing of the convicts’ appeals at the earliest.
The appeal was dismissed by the High Court on October 9, 2017. The applicant had asked for a bail on the ground that he has been in custody since 2004 and had undergone imprisonment for about 17 years.
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.
High Court in its October 2017 judgment, commuted the death sentence awarded to 11 convicts in the Godhra train coach-burning case to life imprisonment. It had upheld the life sentence awarded to 20 other convicts.