SC gives 3 months to complete Gulberg case

Says accused can't be kept in jail without trial

SC gives 3 months to complete Gulberg case

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave three-months time to trial court judge in Ahmedabad to complete the proceedings in the Gulberg Society case which claimed lives of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafari and 70 others during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu expressed concern over the accused languishing in jail for over 10 years in view of a stay on pronouncement of trial court verdict.

“There are people languishing in jail. We cannot keep them like this (pending trial). We have to tell them if they are convicted,” the bench said, modifying its order of 2010 on stay on the trial.

“We direct the presiding judge to hear the case on day-to-day basis, complete the trial within three months and keep the judgment ready and do not pronounce without taking leave of this court,” the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and M Y Eqbal, said.

The court passed its order on an application filed by senior advocate Harish Salve, acting as amicus curiae in the case. The bench also referred to letters received by the court from some of the accused questioning their incarceration without being held guilty.

The court said that conducting the trial in an expeditious manner would not prejudice the case of the accused.

Former CBI director R K Raghavan, who headed the SIT told the bench that three-months may not be enough for the trial court to complete the proceedings as new presiding judge has recently taken over.

He also pointed out that an application under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code for summoning two police officers as accused was also pending before the trial court.
To this, the court said it was aware of the entire gamut of the case and could give further time if any need arose in future.

Out of the nine riot cases investigated by the SIT, judgments have been delivered in six cases. The apex court is monitoring the cases. As many as 580 witnesses were examined and a total of 73 accused faced trial in the Gulberg society case.

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