The Supreme Court on Thursday, 15 December, granted bail to a convict named Farook, who was sentenced to life in the Godhra-train burning case, after noting that he has been in jail for the last 17 years.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha also noted that his role was that of stone pelting at the train, LiveLaw reported.
The bench added:
"In view of the facts and circumstances of the case and the role attributed to the applicant, we direct the applicant to be granted bail subject to such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Sessions Court."
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Gujarat, argued that the convicts' role was not of "mere stone-pelting," as their acts prevented people from escaping the burning train coach. He said:
"He instigated the others, pelted stones and injured the passengers. Under normal circumstances, pelting of stones may be a less grave of an offence. But this is different."
The incident, which took place on 27 February 2002 resulted in the killing of 58 persons in a fire inside the S-6 coach of Sabarmati express which was carrying kar sevaks from Ayodhya.
The train- burning was then followed by communal riots in Gujarat.
In March 2011, the trial court had convicted 31 persons , of whom 11 were sentenced to death and the remaining 20 awarded life in prison. 63 other accused were acquitted.
In 2017, the Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentence of 11 to life-term and upheld the life sentence awarded to the other 20. The appeals filed by the convicts in the Supreme Court are pending since 2018.