New Delhi, January 30
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Gujarat government to respond to bail pleas of some convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train coach-burning case in which 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive.
On behalf of the Gujarat government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud that it was not “merely a stone-pelting” case as the convicts had bolted a bogey of the Sabarmati Express, leading to the death of several passengers on the train.
“Some are saying their role was just stone pelting. But when you lock a bogey from outside, light it on fire and then pelt stones, it is not just stone pelting,” Mehta told the Bench which posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing some of the convicts, said the state government has filed appeals in the cases of certain convicts whose death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the Gujarat High Court.
The court issued a notice to the Gujarat Government on the bail pleas of Abdul Raheman Dhantia alias Kankatto, Abdul Sattar Ibrahim Gaddi Asla and others.
In its October 2017 judgment, the high court had commuted the death sentence awarded to 11 convicts in the Godhra train coach-burning case to life imprisonment. It had upheld the life sentence awarded to 20 other convicts.
On December 15, the top court had granted bail to convict Faruk, who was serving a life sentence in the 2002 Godhra train coach-burning case, noting that he was in jail for 17 years.