SC extends Gulberg trial deadline

SC extends Gulberg trial deadline

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted three months further time to an Ahmedabad court to complete trial in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 67 others were killed.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu, however, declined to give bail to the accused, who sought to be released on the ground that trial of the case has been dragging, forcing their incarceration for more than 10 years. The bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and M Y Eqbal, allowed a plea made by amicus curiae senior advocate Harish Salve, who pointed towards a letter sent by district judge P B Desai  on July 7 seeking three more months more to complete the trial in the case. The court noted there were 338 witnesses in the case. Meanwhile, the court refused to interfere with the Gujarat High Court order of December 23, 2013 granting conditional bail to all 21 people who were convicted and received a  life term in a case relating to the 2002 Deepda Darwaza riots in which 11 persons of a family were killed. The appeal of the convicts in the case is pending. The court asked senior advocate Sanjay Hedge, representing the victims to approach the HC seeking early hearing of the matter for cancellation of bail.

The case relates to the killing of 11 members of a family including two children and a 65-year-old woman on February 28, 2002 in Deepda Darwaza area of Visnagar town in Mehsana district of Gujarat after the Godhra train fire incident.

It was one of the nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). The court had earlier in 2014 expressed satisfaction over the progress of nine cases of post-Godhra riots in Gujarat probed by the SIT. The court has been monitoring nine sensitive cases after the National Human Rights Commission and various NGOs termed the investigation into these as shoddy and unreliable.

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