The Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence given by a trial court to 11 convicts in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case. The court, however, upheld the death sentence of 20 other convicts.
The court also directed the government and the railways to pay Rs 10 lakh each to families of those killed in the Godhra train burning case.
The Gujarat High Court pronounced its verdict on a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals by a special SIT court in the 2002 Godhra train coach burning case.
Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express, in which 59 people, mostly 'kar sevaks' returning from Ayodhya, were travelling, was burnt on February 27, 2002, at the Godhra station, triggering riots in the state.
The special SIT court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were given life in jail.
Later, several appeals were filed in the High Court challenging the conviction, while the state government had questioned the acquittal of 63 people.
The court had convicted 31 people while accepting 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 the prime accused, Maulana Umarji, the then president of the Godhra Municipality, Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari, and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government
to probe the carnage, had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach was not an accident, but it was set ablaze.