Godhra Sabarmati Express burning case: Gujarat HC reserves Order on appeals

Ahmedabad (ADI): The Gujarat High Court today reserved its order on the appeals filed in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.

Arguements of defence and the prosecution agency special investigation team before the division bench of Justices Anant Dave and G R Udhvani ended today.

On February 27, 2002, S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was set on fire near Godhra station, killing 59 people, most of them karsevaks, and sparking state-wide riots in which over 1,200 persons perished.

The defence has relied, among other things, on the “loopholes” in the evidence of forensic experts. While SIT has relied upon testimonies of witnesses and forensic reports as well.

P R Patel, the judge of the special trial court, had on February 22, 2011 convicted 31 persons for murder and criminal conspiracy. Eleven of them were sentenced to death while others were awarded life imprisonment.

Defence lawyer Nitya Ramkrishnan today pointed out “loopholes” in the theory of forensic experts as to how the S-6 coach may have caught fire. She also accused SIT of “dishonest investigation”.

According to eye-witnesses, burning rags were thrown inside the coach. However, many of these witnesses also said that those rags were put out by passengers while the FSL experts suggested that the rags led to the fire, she said.

SIT did not find any more fact other than those found by the police earlier. Nor did it consider the evidenciary value of a sting operation by journalist Ashish Khetan (now an AAP leader), whereas in Naroda Patiya riot case, conviction was based on the same sting operation, she said.

The sting had some of the key witnesses confessing to having accepted bribes from investigators to make certain statements.