The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday granted regular bail to Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Atul Vaidya who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in the Gulberg Society massacre case related to 2002 post Godhra riots in Ahmedabad. This is the first instance of a convict getting regular bail in this case.
A division bench led by justice Abhilasha Kumari pronounced the judgment while granting bail to Vaidya. The court held that Vaidya’s appeal petition against his conviction is pending and he has already served one year of imprisonment. Besides, the court said, based on the evidence against him, bail can be granted.
Vaidya was convicted along with 23 others by a special designated court in June last year for killing 69 people at Gulberg Society, a Muslim neighbourhood. Among the victims was former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri whose wife alleged the then chief minister Narendra Modi and several others for orchestrating the riots. Modi and others were given a clean chit by the Supreme Court appointed-Special Investigation Team.
Soon after Gulberg judgment the SIT wrote a letter to the Gujarat government seeking permission to challenge the acquittal of certain accused and also enhancement of sentences. However, despite several reminders the government is yet to give it nod. SIT officials maintain that it can’t move court unless the state authorises it.
On the other hand the convicts have already moved the high court challenging their sentencing while several victims have also challenged the order seeking harsher punishment and against acquittal.