The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to 17 convicts in one of the 2002 Gujarat riots cases, NDTV reported. The convicts were granted bail on the condition that they will not enter the state and will shift to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde also ordered the convicts to undertake social service during the period of their bail, ANI reported. The court asked district legal authorities in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, to ensure that the convicts do the social and spiritual work assigned to them.
The Supreme Court also tasked the Madhya Pradesh administration with finding the convicts work to earn a livelihood. The state legal services authority has been asked to file a compliance report and to report on their conduct.
The case relates to the massacre of 33 Muslims at Sardarpura village in February 2002, in the aftermath of the burning of a bogie of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in which 59 people died. At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the riots that ensued.
On February 28, 2002, hundreds of people surrounded the Sheikh Vaas lane in Sardarpura, near Surat city, and the mob burnt the house of a man where victims had taken shelter. Police arrested 76 people in connection with the case, two of whom died during the trial. The trial court on November 9, 2011, sentenced 31 people to life imprisonment while acquitting the rest.
The case was one of the nine Gujarat riots cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.
In 2016, the Gujarat High Court had upheld the life terms for 17 people and acquitted 14 more convicted in the Sardarpura case.