The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to eight convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case. However, the bail application of the four other convicts was turned down in view of their role.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of DY Chandrachud granted bail to the eight convicts on the grounds that they have spent over 17 years in jail. Those who got bail were the ones convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Gujarat High Court too had upheld their sentences.
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Earlier, on Monday, the Supreme Court had rejected the bail application of those convicts who were awarded death sentence by the trial court but it was commuted to life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court.
The Gujarat government had reiterated that the convicts of the Godhra train coach-burning case were involved in serious offences. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the top court that the accused had bolted the door of the train from the outside. However, the convicts’ lawyers submitted that they have served 17 years in prison.
At least 58 people lost their lives when some coaches of Sabarmati Express were burnt at the Godhra Railway Station in Gujarat on February 27, 2002.
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The incident triggered large-scale riots in Gujarat. A local court in 2011 convicted 31 accused and acquitted 63 people. Eleven accused were sentenced to death and 20 were awarded life imprisonment by the trial court.
Later, Gujarat High Court upheld the trial court decision to convict the 31 accused but commuted the death sentence of the 11 to life imprisonment. The convicts moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court order. The appeal is pending in the Supreme Court since 2018.