Death sought for Godhra accused

The special court to pronounce quantum of punishment on March 1

The plea was made at the special court inside the Sabarmati Jail, which was hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence for those convicted in the case. The judgment will now be delivered on Tuesday.

Walking out of the court after the proceedings, special public prosecutor J M Panchal said: “We have prayed for death sentence for all the 31 convicted. We have made submission in support of our demand. The matter is now subjudice and I cannot disclose anything further. We will have to wait till March 1.”

Loopholes in probe

Citing loopholes in the police investigations, the defence argued strongly against rewarding death sentence to the convicted in the three-hour long hearing. It contended that the spontaneous riot situation cannot be construed as a rarest of rare cases.

Defence counsel I M Munshi said “no attempt was made by the police to save them and the provocation was from the other side, so it cannot be dubbed a rarest of rare cases.” 
The defence also argued for individual cases to be considered in the quantum of sentencing, highlighting that some cases where not even conspiracy related.

Munshi added: “There are at least two to three against whom they have charges under loot and robbery  and they have spent over nine years and should be let off.”

The court, while upholding pre-planned conspiracy theory, convicted 31 people on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy on February 22. It acquitted 63 others in the 2002 train burning incident that killed 59 karsewaks.

The accused have also been convicted under IPC Sections 147, 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 323, 324, 325, 326 (causing hurt), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds), various Sections of the Indian Railways Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Bombay Police Act.

Scientific evidence, statement of witnesses and circumstantial and documentary evidence placed on record have formed the basis of the court’s acceptance of the conspiracy theory in its over 850-page judgment. 

The prime convicts among the 31 include Haji Bilal, Abdul Razak Kurkur, Jabir Behra, Salim Zarda and Mehbub Hasan alias Latiko.

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