Court refuses to review conviction of juvenile in Godhra carnage casehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/court-refuses-to-review-conviction-of-juvenile-in-godhra-carnage-case/

Court refuses to review conviction of juvenile in Godhra carnage case

‘No objection was raised when order was passed or when charges were framed’

The special trial court,which convicted 31 people in the 2002 Sabarmati Express burning case last month,has refused to review its order awarding life sentence to one of the accused who,according to a defence lawyer,was a juvenile at the time of the incident.

The defence had contended that his trial should have been conducted by a juvenile court. But the judge rejected the prayer,observing that there was no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code under which he could review his own order.

On February 22,the special trial court of Sessions Judge P R Patel had pronounced its judgment in the case,convicting 31 people and acquitting 63.

Among the convicted was Ibrahim Abdul Razzak Abdul Sattar Samol alias Bhano from Godhra. He was awarded life imprisonment.

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At the next hearing for deciding the quantum of punishment for the convicted persons,Ibrahim’s lawyer,A A Hasan,made oral submissions and told the court that his client was a ‘juvenile’ on February 27,2002,the day of the incident,so his trial should have been conducted by a juvenile court.

Hasan said that when Ibrahim was arrested on September 1,2004,the investigating officers had recorded his age as 20 years old.

So,the lawyer argued,at the time of the offence for which he was convicted was committed — on February 27,2002 — he must have been below 18 years. Hasan then demanded an inquiry into the issue by the court and necessary action.

Rejecting the argument,the court observed,“… it will suffice to say that no such ground was raised either at the time of passing the order with regard to other juvenile accused,or at the time of framing charge,or during the course of recording evidence,or at the time of recording further statements or even at the time of hearing regular arguments,despite the fact that he is represented by a senior,well-experienced lawyer practicing mainly on criminal side.”

“Further,in the Criminal Procedure Code,there is no power to review its own decision by the trial court and that too after holding guilty the accused in such serious crime,” the court observed.

Not satisfied with the court’s order,Hasan said,“We are going to challenge this order in the High Court. The trial court has ample power to review its own order.”