The Gujarat High Court commuted death sentences to rigorous life imprisonment for 11 convicts in the in- famous 2002 Godhra train coach burning case and upheld the life sentence to 20 other convicts. The court also observed that the state had failed to maintain law and order.
According to various media reports, the court was hearing a clutch of appeals against a special SIT court order that sentenced 31 people in the train burning case. The SIT court had on March 1, 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were given life in jail.
It directed the state to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the 59 victims, mostly kar sevaks, killed in the incident.
It may be recalled that Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express, in which 59 people, mostly ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were travelling, was burnt on February 27, 2002 at the Godhra station, triggering off riots in the state.
The court had convicted 31 people while accepting the prosecution’s contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.
Recently, the Gujarat High Court had upheld the judgment of a metropolitan court that gave a clean chit to then chief minister Narendra Modi and 60 others in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, and rejected Zakia Jafri’s allegations that the riots were part of a “larger conspiracy”.
The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) in its closure report had given a clean chit to Modi and others, including top officials and policemen, in the 2002 riots, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.