The Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train burning case. It has, however, upheld the life sentence to 20 other convicts.
The court also observed that the State had failed to maintain law and order. It directed the State to pay Rs 10 lakh to the families of the 59 victims, mostly kar sevaks, killed in the incident. While reading the judgment, the HC bench expressed regret over the lengthy delay in the case. "We regret the delay...Certain things are not in our control," it said.
The court was hearing a clutch of appeals against a special SIT court order that sentenced 31 people in the train burning case. The special SIT court had also acquitted 63 people. Those acquitted included the prime accused, Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra Municipality, Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.
Last week, the Gujarat High Court had upheld the judgment of a metropolitan court that gave a clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and 60 others in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, and rejected Zakia Jafri's allegations that the riots were part of a "larger conspiracy".
The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) in its closure report had given a clean chit to Modi and others, including top officials and policemen, in the 2002 riots, citing lack of "prosecutable evidence" against them.