Naroda Patiya massacre case: Three convicts get 10-year rigorous imprisonment

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 25 June 2018, 03:35 PM
Naroda case: Three convicts get 10-year RI (File Photo)
Naroda case: Three convicts get 10-year RI (File Photo)

The Gujarat High Court on Monday awarded 10 years' rigorous imprisonment to three convicts of the 16 accused in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case.

The three convicts - P J Rajput, Rajkumar Chaumal and Umesh Bharwad - were held guilty in an order pronounced on April 20 and the court observed that their punishment should be consistent with the brutality of the crime. And, a division bench of justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehia awarded 10 years' RI to the three convicts in the case.

After their conviction on April 20 by the same court, the trio had sought a further hearing on their quantum of sentence on the ground that they were not properly represented.

Pronouncing the sentence on Monday, the court gave them six weeks' time to surrender before the police.

In its order on the quantum of sentence, the court observed that the crimes committed by them were against society, and their punishment must be consistent with the brutality with which the crime was committed.

The three were held guilty of crimes other than that of murder, with the maximum punishment of life sentence or 10 years attracted under IPC section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house).

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"The court cannot set aside the agony and anguish of the victims... Offences are not against individuals but society at large and has consequences of polarising society," the bench observed.

"Imposing too lenient a sentence would amount to a travesty of justice...Imposition of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment would be adequate punishment," the court held.

The court further observed that any liberal attitude with respect to such offences would be "counter-productive" and "against the interest of society."

Earlier, in their submissions, the three convicts had appealed for a reduction of sentence, stating that the court has discretion for a minimum sentence.

The SIT and the state government, in their submissions, sought maximum punishment looking at the offence. All the three were acquitted by the special SIT court.

However, while hearing appeals, the high court had found them guilty on April 20, even as it upheld the acquittal of 29 others.

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In its order on appeals in the case on April 20, the high court had convicted 16 people, including then Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, and acquitted 18 others, among them being former BJP minister Maya Kodnani.

Out of 13 of these convicts (barring the three sentenced on Monday), all except one were sentenced to 21 years' rigorous imprisonment, while one convict was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.

The court had deferred the order on quantum of sentence for the other three convicts which was announced on Monday.

Out of the total 61 accused in the case, the special SIT court had in August 2012 held 32 guilty, and acquitted 29 others.

A mob had killed 97 people, most of them from a minority community, in the Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the torching of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, which triggered state-wide riots.

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(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Monday, June 25, 2018 03:16 PM
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