January 28, 2020

SC Grants Interim Bail To 14 Convicts In Gujarat Riot Case

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has granted interim bail to 14 persons convicted to life sentence for the murder of 23 Muslims in the Ode massacre case during the post-Godhra Gujarat riots of 2002, provided they keep aside six hours a week to engage themselves in “spiritual and social service”.

A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde also stated these convicts could “heal themselves mentally” by participating in seminars. Their bail would continue until the Supreme Court decides their appeals against conviction.

Those granted interim bail by the Supreme Court have been convicted for their role in the post-Godhra Sardarpura riot case in Gujarat where 23 Muslims were burnt alive. The Muslims, hiding in a house, were burnt alive by a mob which included the convicts who have been granted interim bail. At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the three-day violence.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant has put them in two groups. Six of the convicts will remain in Indore, while the rest will go to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. They will not be allowed to enter Gujarat.

The Supreme Court also asked the convicts to carry out “social work” and “practice spirituality” during their bail period, to “help reinforce moral guidance in them”.

The Supreme Court also asked district legal authorities at Indore and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to ensure that the convicts are engaged in “spiritual and social work”.

The court has asked the authorities to help them find work for a livelihood. Following this, the state legal authorities will file a compliance report, as also on the conduct of convicts.

The convicts were represented by senior advocate P S Patwalia and advocate Astha Sharma while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the state.

The court has directed the release of the convicts after furnishing bail bonds of Rs 25,000 each, with a surety of equal amount, subject to other conditions.

Incidentally, appeals of these riot convicts are pending in the Supreme Court. The Gujarat High Court had acquitted 15 accused, but convicted 14 and awarded them life sentences for their role in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.

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