Pulling up Gujarat police for framing “innocent” people in the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, the Supreme Court Friday ordered that all the six convicted by lower courts be freed, and blamed the Gujarat Home Minister for “non-application of the mind.”
A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda blamed the home minister for “clear non-application of mind…in granting sanction,” since it was based neither on an informed decision nor on an independent analysis of facts… The court said the sanction was hence “void” and not a legal and valid sanction under POTA.
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute them under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was granted.
The six had been convicted in the criminal conspiracy to plot the terror strike at Akshardham to avenge the post-Godhra communal riots. Two terrorists who sprayed bullets from AK-56 rifles killing and injuring devotees were killed by commandos on September 25, 2002.
After perusing evidence and lower court judgements, the SC bench noted “the story of prosecution crumbles at every juncture”. The court said, “The confessional statements cannot be relied upon and the case of the prosecution fails. Accordingly, we hold there is no independent evidence on record to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in the face of retractions and grave allegations of torture and violation of human rights the accused have made against police,” it said.