The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to eight life convicts in 2002 Godhra train burning case in Gujarat, but declined bail to four others noting their roles in the case.
In February 2002, 59 people were killed when a coach of the train was burnt at Gujarat’s Godhra, triggering riots in the state.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Gujarat government, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha that he has some issues with the bail application of four accused, because of their roles in the train burning case. The accused have undergone imprisonment for nearly 17 years.
Opposing bail for four accused, Mehta said from one of them an iron pipe was recovered and from another accused a weapon was recovered, which is a sickle mounted on a stick. Mehta continued that another accused purchased, stored, and carried petrol which was used for burning the coach and the last accused attacked the passengers and looted them.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, on behalf of the petitioners, suggested that the court could adjourn the hearing on the bail applications of the four convicts, whose bail was opposed by Mehta, and grant bail to other convicts.
Hegde continued that he made this suggestion specifically because there is a festival on Saturday and urged the bench to hear the bail applications of the four convicts after two weeks, saying that submissions were to be made on behalf of them.
Another senior counsel also urged the bench not to dismiss the bail plea of four accused and adjourn the hearing on their bail applications. Mehta pressed that the court should dismiss the bail applications of the four convicts and added that the court may leave it open for them to revive these applications after a year or so.
After hearing submissions, the bench granted bail to eight convicts and rejected bail for four convicts. Concluding the hearing, the bench, for eight petitioners whom it granted bail, said: “We direct that they be released on bail subject to such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the sessions court…” On the last date of hearing, the top court had rejected bail to two convicts in the case.
The Gujarat government had moved the apex court challenging the commutation of death penalty into life imprisonment for 11 convicts.
The apex court was informed that several accused in the matter have challenged the high court order upholding their convictions in the case.
On December 15 last year, the Supreme Court granted bail to one of the accused in the 2002 Godhra train burning which was followed by communal riots in Gujarat.
In January this year, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the state government on the bail pleas of Abdul Raheman Dhantia alias Kankatto, Abdul Sattar Ibrahim Gaddi Asla and others.