SC Dismisses Bail Plea of Three Convicts in 2002 Godhra Train Burning Case

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CJI Chandrachud said that he will pass administrative orders for constitution of a bench and parties will be at liberty to apply before that bench for expeditious hearing of appeal. 

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the bail plea of three convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case, who were engaged in stone pelting or robbing of gold ornaments as per the findings of trial court.  

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra denied the relief considering the specific roles attributed to them and dismissed the applications seeking bail till their appeal is decided by the Supreme Court. 

Senior advocate Sanjay Hedge, appearing for convicts, submitted that none of them was awarded death penalty and the two of three are serving life imprisonment on charges of pelting stones. Further, he apprised the court that one convict has been in custody over 17.5 years over charges of robbing gold ornaments, adding that no jewellery was ever recovered from him. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Gujarat government, opposed the pleas while referring to their specific role set out in the order of the trial court. 

“Having regard to the specific role of the three appellants (Saukat Yusuf Ismail Mohan, Siddik @ Matunga Abdullah Badam Shaikh and Bilal Abdullah Ismail Badam Ghanchi), at this stage, we are not inclined to enlarge them on bail,” ordered the bench. 

It clarified that dismissal of their application for release will not prejudice the merits of their appeal pending in the Supreme Court.  

At the end of hearing, CJI Chandrachud said that he will pass administrative orders for constitution of a bench and parties will be at liberty to apply before that bench for expeditious hearing of appeal. 

Earlier in April this year, the top court had granted bail to eight convicts and rejected bail for four convicts. 

In February 2002, 59 people were killed when a coach of the train was burnt at Gujarat’s Godhra, triggering riots in the state.

The Gujarat government had moved the apex court against the decision of the Gujarat High Court commuting the death penalty for 11 convicts into life imprisonment. Also, several accused have challenged the High Court’s order upholding their convictions in the case. 

In March 2011, the trial court had convicted 31 persons, out of which 11 were sentenced to death and  the rest 20 were sentenced to life. A total of 63 accused were acquitted. In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court upheld the conviction of all, but commuted the death sentence of the 11 to life imprisonment. — IANS

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