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Godhra Case: Guj Govt Failed to Maintain Law and Order, Says HC

The special SIT court had on 1 March 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case.

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People light candles during a prayer ceremony in Ahmedabad for the victims of the Godhra train. Photo used for representational purpose.
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The Gujarat High Court on Monday, 9 October, commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to rigorous life imprisonment, while upholding the life sentence of another 20 in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.

While ordering the state and the railways to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of those killed in the Godhra incident, the high court observed that "the state has failed to maintain law and order, so has the railways". Those injured in the incident should be given compensation as per the disabilities they suffered, the court said.

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The division bench also said that it regrets the delay in pronouncement of the judgement, as hearing on appeals had concluded much earlier.

The high court relied on the testimonies of injured witnesses, passengers, railway employees, Railway Protection Force personnel, two policemen from Godhra, the Gujarat railway police, experts from forensic laboratories and also the confessional statements.

The court rejected the appeals filed by the special investigation team (SIT) against the acquittal of 63 people, and also its appeals seeking enhancement of sentences. The court also rejected the appeals against conviction.

The special SIT court had on 1 March, 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 others in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were awarded life imprisonment by the lower court.

The lower court had accepted the prosecution's contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.

All the 31 were convicted under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.

Those acquitted included prime accused Maulana Umarji, then president of Godhra municipality Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur in Uttar Pradesh.

The Justice Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the carnage, had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was not an accident, but the coach had been set ablaze.

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