The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to eight life convicts in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case in Gujarat.
On February 27, 2002, 59 people were killed when the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Gujarat’s Godhra, triggering one of the worst communal riots in India since Partition.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said that there was a need to create a distinction for efficiently dealing with the batch of bail pleas of convicts, besides the appeals of the state government against the commutation of the death penalty into life term.
The HC had upheld 31 convictions in the case while commuting the death penalties and some of them have moved the top court seeking bail till the disposal of their appeals against their conviction and sentence.
The apex court was hearing the matter a day after an Ahmedabad court acquitted all 68 accused including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Maya Kodnani, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Jaydeep Patel in the Naroda Gam case, in the 2002 Naroda Gam riots case in which 11 people were killed.
The Ahmedabad-based court of S K Baxi, special judge for SIT cases, acquitted all the accused in one of the major post-Godhra riots cases which was probed by a Supreme-Court appointed Special Investigation Team.
Those acquitted include Kodnani, former VHP leader Jaydeep Patel and ex-Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.
There were a total of 86 accused in the case, of which 18 died during pendency of the trial, while one was discharged earlier by the court.