Designated court judge B J Dhandha,hearing the Gulberg Society case trial which is in the final stage of completion,has retired from service even as Gujarat High Court is yet to announce appointment of his successor.
Sessions court judge Dhandha,who had been assigned the trial in February 2011,retired on August 31.
The case,which had attracted nationwide attention,is in the last stage of completion as hearing of final arguments from both defence and prosecution is over. With Dhandhas retirement,the new judge may have to hear final arguments from all the parties again.
Court was to hear final arguments from our side. But now as presiding judge has retired,new judge will have to hear final arguments from all the parties again, said advocate S M Vora,who is representing victim witnesses in the case.
Sixty-nine Muslims,including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri,were killed when a violent mob attacked Gulberg Society on February 28,2002 during the post-Godhra communal riots. According to prosecution,67 accused who are facing trial in the case included then Meghaninagar Police Inspector K G Erda.
The Supreme Court in 2008 had directed setting up of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to re-investigate ten cases,including the Godhra train burning case,and in 2009 ordered designated courts for the speedy trial of those cases.
In 2011,following the objections from the victims of Gulberg Society violence,then trial judge B U Joshi was replaced with B J Dhandha as designated judge. The Supreme Court in the same year directed the designated court to finish the Gulberg trial but stayed pronouncement of the judgment.