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Godhra case: Gujarat HC says no POTA on accused

February 12, 2009 20:02 IST

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The Gujarat High Court on Monday dismissed a petition challenging the Central Pota Review Committee's recommendation of dropping Prevention of Terrorism [Images] Act charges against the accused in Godhra train carnage case.

With this decision, nearly 134 accused in the Godhra train burning case will not be tried under the repealed anti-terror law.

Hearing the petition, the High Court division bench of Justice Bhagwati Prasad and Justice Bankim Mehta, however extended the stay on all proceedings in connection with the Godhra case, including the transfer of case from designated POTA court to sessions court, for two weeks, giving time to the petitioner to challenge the decision in the apex court.

The court dismissing the petition of one Sardarji Maganji Waghela, who lost his son in the carnage, held that the recommendations of the CPRC were apt and within its scope.

Till now, the accused of the Godhra train carnage were held under the POTA by the state government, in spite of the CPRC ruling that the anti-terror law is not applicable in the incident.

In October last year, the Supreme Court had held that the findings of the CPRC to drop the charges under the repealed law would be binding on the government and the designated court.

The apex court passed the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed by family members of victims and Godhra case accused.

The Supreme Court in December last year had also ordered that all the proceedings in connection with the train carnage case should be transferred to the Godhra session court.

About 59 people, mostly Hindus, were killed when the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was torched near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002.

According to the chargesheet filed in the case there are 134 accused of which 116 were arrested by the police, while 17 are still absconding. One person who was named as absconder died. 13 people were released for lack of evidence.

Presently, 79 accused are behind bars since 2002 and are lodged at the Sabarmati Central prison in Ahmedabad [Images], while 19 accused were out on bail, of which three were juvenile.

Two minor accused are lodged in the Juvenile observation home in Ahmedabad, while three other accused have died over the last seven years.

The Nanavati Commission constituted by the state government to probe the incident had termed it as a 'conspiracy'.

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