The Gujarat High Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on a set of appeals in the 2002 Godhra train coach burning case on Monday. The order pertains to appeals challenging convictions and acquittals by a special SIT court regarding the train burning incident at Godhra station on February 27, 2002.
On March 1, 2011, the special SIT court had convicted 31 people under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The court had accepted the prosecution’s contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident and sentenced 11 people to death. It also sentrnced 20 people to life imprisonment and acquitted 63 in the case. Those acquitted included the prime accused, Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra Municipality, Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Gujarat government had appointed the Nanavati Commission to probe the train burning incient. The inquiry had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in which 59 people, mostly ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were travelling, was not an accident. The Commission said it was set on fire.
Last week, the Gujarat High Court had upheld the judgment of a metropolitan court that accepted a clean chit to the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 60 others in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, and rejected Zakia Jafri’s allegations that the riots were part of a “larger conspiracy”.
The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) in its closure report had given a clean chit to Modi and others, including top officials and policemen, in the 2002 riots, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.