The Gujarat High Court has said that the Godhra train case was “neither terrorism nor an act of waging war against the state.” The court made this observation in its order that commuted the death sentence of 11 people to life imprisonment on Monday.
“The cases on hand have no genesis in the act of terrorism or waging war against the state,” the court said.
“Death penalties eliminate a person to a point of no return. While considering the question of sentence to death, a duty is cast upon the court to deliberate on various facets of sentence and to immunise itself to avoid branding imposition of death sentence as ‘judge centric’ or ‘blood thirsty’,” PTI quoted the order, that was made available on Tuesday.
Judges Anant S Dave and GR Udhwani had also pulled up the state government for failing to maintain law and order and make better arrangements for the devotees, considering the circumstances. It had also directed it to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation each to families of victims, mostly kar sevaks.
The special SIT court had on 1 March, 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were given life in jail.
Later, several appeals were filed in the High Court challenging the conviction, while the state government had questioned the acquittal of 63 people.
The court had convicted 31 people while accepting the prosecution’s contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.
All the 31 were convicted under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
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.