The Supreme Court on Friday said it will dispose of the bail pleas of several convicts serving life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train burning case on April 10.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, that he has to verify certain factual details with regard to some convicts.
The bench, also comprising justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, considered the submissions of the law officer and adjourned the hearing to April 10, and said it will “dispose of” the pending bail pleas of the convicts on that day.
The bench, meanwhile, extended the bail granted to one of the convicts earlier on the ground that his wife was suffering from cancer.
“His wife is suffering from cancer. My consent may be recorded,” said the law officer while supporting the extension of bail.
Earlier on March 17, the top court had said it will hear on March 24 the appeal of the Gujarat government and the bail pleas of several accused in the case.
On February 20, the state government had told the top court that it will be seeking award of death penalty to 11 convicts whose sentences in the 2002 Godhra train burning case were commuted to life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court.
“We will be seriously pressing for award of death penalty to the convicts whose death penalties were commuted into life imprisonment (by the Gujarat High Court). This is the rarest of rare cases where 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive,” the solicitor general had said.
“It is consistent everywhere that the bogei (coach) was locked from outside. Fifty-nine died, including ladies and children,” he had added.
Giving details, the law officer had said 11 convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court and 20 others granted life term in the case.
The high court upheld total 31 convictions in the case and commuted the death penalties of the 11 convicts to life term, Mr Mehta had said.
On February 27, 2002, 59 people were killed when the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Gujarat’s Godhra, triggering riots in the state.
The state government has come in appeal against the commutation of death penalty into life term for 11 convicts, Mehta said. Several accused, he added, have filed pleas against the high court upholding their convictions in the case.
The top court has granted bail to two convicts in the case so far. Seven other bail pleas are pending adjudication in the matter.
The bench noted that a large number of bail applications have been filed before it in the case and said, “It has been agreed that the AORs (advocates-on-record) on behalf of applicants along with advocate Swati Ghildiyal, standing counsel for Gujarat, shall prepare a comprehensive chart with all relevant details. List after three weeks.” The Supreme Court had on January 30 sought the Gujarat government’s response on the bail pleas of some of the convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the case.
The court issued notice to the state government on the bail pleas of Abdul Raheman Dhantia alias Kankatto and Abdul Sattar Ibrahim Gaddi Asla, among others.
The state government, on the other hand, said it was not “merely a stone pelting” case as the convicts had bolted a coach of the Sabarmati Express, leading to the death of several passengers on the train.
“Some are saying their role was just stone pelting. But when you lock a bogei from outside, light it on fire and then pelt stones, it is not just stone pelting,” the solicitor general had said.
On December 15, last year, the top court granted bail to Faruk, who was serving a life sentence in the case and noted that he had been in jail for 17 years.
Faruk, along with several others, was convicted for pelting stones at a coach of the train.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)