The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case cannot be considered for premature release under state’s policy as provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act were invoked against them, reported Live Law.
On February 27, 2002, coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, leading to the deaths of 59 persons. The coach was carrying kar sevaks who were returning from Ayodhya. In 2017, the Gujarat High Court had commuted death sentence given to 11 convicts by a trial court to life sentence and upheld the life-term of 20 others.
The train burning incident had triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat, resulting in the deaths of 1,044 persons, according to official figures.
Notably, on August 15, the Gujarat government approved the early release of 11 men convicted in the Bilkis Bano case. The men were convicted for gangraping Bano in a village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, during the communal riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on the ground by the perpetrators.
At Monday’s hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the government will be pressing for death penalty to the convicts whose death sentences were commuted into life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court, reported PTI.
“This is the rarest of rare cases where 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive,” Mehta said.
Senior Advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for the convicts, said that one of them has stated he did not know Gujarati and gave his thumb impression on a statement that he had not read. To this, the court said that it needs a compiled chart with all relevant details to consider the bail pleas.
The court has now fixed the bail pleas of several convicts for hearing after three weeks. It has also asked both sides to file a consolidated chart giving details such as actual sentences awarded to them and the period spent in jail till now.