2002 Gujarat Riots: HC Acquits 14 in Sardarpura Massacre Case

The Gujarat HC has upheld the life term awarded to 17 accused in the case, in which 33 people were burnt alive.

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Hindi Female

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday upheld the life sentence awarded to 17 accused and acquitted 14 others in the 2002 post-Godhra Sardarpura massacre case in which 33 people of the minority community were burnt alive.

A division bench of Justice Harsha Devani and Justice Biren Vaishnav overturned the conviction of 14 others citing lack of evidence and contradictions in the statements of witnesses.

The HC also dismissed appeals of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and the Gujarat government against the acquittal of 31 people by the trial court.

The High Court acquitted 14 people convicted by the trial court, citing the ‘two-witness test’ prescribed by the Supreme Court, which says that at least two witnesses should have testified against an accused in a riot case for the court to convict him or her.

Applying the same test, the HC upheld the convictions of 17 persons.


The Carnage

Thirty-three members of the minority community were burnt alive at Sardarpura village in Vijapur tehsil of Mehsana district on the night of February 28 2002. Riots had broken out in Gujarat following the Godhra train carnage on February 27 that year, in which 59 people, mainly 'karsevaks' returning from Ayodhya, were killed.

This was one of the nine post-Godhra riot cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.

Police had arrested 76 persons in the case, of whom two died during the trial, while one was a minor at the time. Charges were framed against 73 accused in June 2009.

Special judge for SIT cases S C Srivastava sentenced 31 persons to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each of them, while acquitting the rest on November 9 2011.

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