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Supreme Court to hear bail pleas of Godhra train burning case convicts on December 15, Gujarat govt opposes the applications

On February 27, 2002, 58 people were killed as the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express which was transporting karsevaks from Ayodhya was set on fire near Godhra station by Islamists. The SC has agreed to hear the bail application

On December 2, 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the bail applications of 15 convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case on December 15. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha directed the State of Gujarat to detail the particular roles of the prisoners so that their bail pleas may be examined. The bench also observed that all of them had served 17-18 years in prison.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the state of Gujarat. He contended that the case was not “mere stone-pelting” by the convicts, as their acts prevented people from escaping the burning train coach. The bail application of the sole convict, Faruk, was heard before the bench on Friday. When the Solicitor General sought an adjournment till January, Faruk’s attorney asked the bench to postpone the matter until after the holidays, claiming that the State was requesting an adjournment for the second time.

A counsel representing the other convicts requested the judge to hear their bail applications as well, citing a total of 15 appellants. The judges questioned, “Why don’t they submit bail applications?” The attorney responded that the bail applications had previously been submitted in conjunction with the special leave requests in 2018.

According to the Solicitor General, the bail petitions would be heard alongside the major appeals. He said, “If the appeals are set down for hearing, everything can be settled. Main appeals could be listed for hearing.” However, the court said that it will hear the applications on December 15.

The Chief Justice of India said, “Perhaps what you can do Mr Solicitor is that ultimately you can tell us the individual roles. Once you do that exercise, then that obviates the need for us to insist that everybody should file bail applications. So once you identify them, then we can keep all those matters on board and say that these persons can be released on bail, based on their role. Because they have undergone 17-18 years. That will be fair also.”

On February 27, 2002, 58 people were killed as the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express which was transporting karsevaks from Ayodhya was set on fire near Godhra station by Islamists. The Godhra massacre sparked communal rioting in Gujarat.

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