20, Oct 2016
While upholding the conviction of 17 convicts, Gujarat High Court acquitted on Thursday remaining 14 convicts in Sardarpura massacre case of 2002.
Image: The Indian Express
Out of the 62 accused in the massacre that was probed by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, 31 were convicted for life imprisonment and the remaining had pleaded not guilty in the special court in 2011. While upholding the conviction of 17 remaining convicts, the court dismissed the appeal petitions of state government, Supreme Court appointed-special investigation team (SIT) and victims who had challenged the acquittal of 31 accused by the special court.
The division bench of justice Harsha Devani and justice Biren Vaishnav pronounced the order acquitting 14 persons.
Out of 14 persons who acquitted of murder charges, the court granted benefit of doubt to 11 and did not find evidence against three others, said advocate Yusuf Shaikh, who represented witness-survivors.
In this case, the trial court had refused to believe that the convicted people had hatched any conspiracy. The lower court dubbed this incident of violence as a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra carnage, in which 59 passengers in S-6 of Sabarmati Express were charred to death by a violent mob on February 27, 2002.
During the post-Godhra massacre of Sardarpura, in 33 persons – mostly women and children were burnt alive in a north Gujarat village on March 1, 2002.
In 2011, special judge SC Srivastava had delivered a verdict after three years of trial against 73 from Sardarpura and nearby villages in Mehsana district. She had held 31 guilty of murder and rioting and were sentenced to life. Out of 42 persons who were acquitted by the trial court, 31 were granted benefit of doubt and 11 got exonerated due to lack of evidence against them.
Credit: Sabrangindia https://sabrangindia.in/article/gujarat-hc-acquits-14-upholds-conviction-17-sardarpura-massacre-case