A special court on Tuesday awarded the death penalty to 11 persons convicted for the 2002 Godhra carnage. Twenty other convicts were sentenced to life in prison.
Last week, the court accepted the prosecution’s contention that a conspiracy was hatched to set ablaze coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, which killed 59 people. The court had held 31 persons guilty for the incident.
Special public prosecutor JM Panchal, who sought death for all the convicts, argued that the Godhra incident was not comparable to any other criminal case in history. Thus, he argued, it fit into the ‘rarest of the rare’ category specified by the apex court for capital punishment.
Finer details like grounds on which punishment was determined for each convict are not clear yet. “The court has delivered its verdict and its observation will only be known after the full text of the judgment is made available to the accused on Thursday,” Panchal said.
IM Munshi, the lawyer representing the accused, said he would move the Gujarat high court against the verdict. “It is difficult to understand the judgment,” he said.
“Till we get the copy of the judgement, we cannot comment much. But we will definitely appeal against the verdict in the high court. The judgement cannot be implemented till the high court confirms the sentence,” said Munshi.
If the high court upholds the special court’s ruling, the convicts have the option of moving the Supreme Court.
(With inputs from Charul Shah)