Gujarat HC commutes death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment

Godhra case: Gujarat High Court commutes death to life term for 11 convicts

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The Gujarat High Court upheld the conviction of 31 people in the Godhra train burning case. The court commuted the death sentence handed to 11 convicts.

The Gujarat High Court today mostly upheld the convictions of 31 people and the acquittals of 63 others in the Godhra Sabarmati Express burning case, with one big change.

The death sentences handed to 11 of the 31 convicts, were commuted to rigorous life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court, which was hearing a bunch of appeals in the Godhra train carnage case.

Punishments of the remaining 20 convicts, who were handed life in prison, remains unchanged. The Gujarat government’s appeal challenging the acquittals of 63 people accused in the conspiracy to burn coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was rejected.

In its order, the high court pulled up both the Gujarat government and the Indian Railways for failing to maintain law and order.

Readers should note that the high court’s observation is in relation to the burning of coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra and not the state-wide riots that followed the carnage.

The high court’s order came in appeals that challenged the convictions and acquittals handed out by a special SIT court in March 2011.

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FEBRUARY 27, 2002

On February 27, 2002, a date that would change the history of Gujarat forever, coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express went up in flames, killing all 59 occupants, most of them ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya.

Soon after the burning, rumours regarding the incident and a supposed conspiracy to kill the kar sevaks spread and triggered massive riots in the state. Nearly 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, had died in the riots, according to official estimates.

The Godhra burning was investigated by a Special Investigative Team (SIT) and on March 1, 2011, a special court convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 while accepting the prosecution’s argument that there was a conspiracy to burn Coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express.

11 of the 31 convicts were given the death penalty while the remaining were given life imprisonment. All the 31 were convicted under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.

Both, the convictions and the acquittals, were challenged in the Gujarat High Court.

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