Supreme Court grants bail to four convicts in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case

The top court also granted interim bail for a period of 19 days to convict Prakashbhai Sureshbhai Rathod (Chhara) to take part in his daughter's marriage on February 10.

Published: 23rd January 2019 07:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2019 07:23 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court (File | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday granted regular bail to four convicts in the Naroda Patiya massacre case in Gujarat in which 97 people were killed by a mob during the 2002 riots in the state.

The Gujarat High Court had on April 20 last year upheld the conviction of 12 out of the 29 accused who were pronounced guilty on various charges by the trial court and had acquitted 17 others, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani.

A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi Tuesday granted regular bail to four convicts -- Umeshbhai Surabhai Bharwad, Rajkumar, Padmendrasinh Jaswantsinh Rajput and Harshad alias Mungda Jila Govind Chhara Parmar.

The top court also granted interim bail for a period of 19 days to convict Prakashbhai Sureshbhai Rathod (Chhara) to take part in his daughter's marriage on February 10.

He will remain on bail from January 28 to February 15, when he will have to surrender back to jail. Meanwhile, it accepted the appeal of these persons challenging the high court's verdict convicting them for their alleged roles in the riots case.

Dealing with the bail plea of convict Umeshbhai Surabhai Bharwad, the apex court termed the high court's order convicting him as "debatable" and "doubtful".

Granting bail to Bharwad, a HIV infected person, the bench said, "It is not in dispute that after a full fledged trial, the applicant was acquitted by the trial court on the finding that he has been named by only two police officials.

His name was not mentioned in the FIR. "The police officials named him after a gap of four days from the date of incident claiming to have seen the applicant in a group of around 15,000 persons gathered at the scene of offence. No identification parade was conducted in respect of this applicant.

"It noted that the high court reversed the acquittal "only on the basis of evidence of two police witnesses. Prima facie, we find that the approach of the High court is debatable".

While granting bail to Rajkumar and Padmendrasinh, it said that the high court's approach in holding them guilty was "doubtful".

It said the high court had reversed their acquittals on account of their established presence at the scene of offence, saying that the charge of "being a member of the unlawful assembly must hold good".

The apex court noted, "prima facie, we find this approach to be doubtful, especially when the witnesses relied upon by the prosecution are police officials and no Identification Parade of this applicant was conducted during the investigation by the Police.

Identifying the applicant in court by police officials (witnesses) cannot take the matter any further, unless they had known him personally in the past".

"Moreover, the presence of applicant is stated to be in the group of around 15,000 persons gathered at the scene of offence," the bench noted.

The rioting had taken place on February 28, 2002, in the Naroda Patiaya area of Ahmedabad where a mob had killed 97 people, most of them from a minority community.

The massacre had taken place a day after the torching of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in which 59 people were burnt alive, triggering state-wide riots.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp