The Supreme Court on January 28 granted bail to all 14 convicts in the Sardarpura massacre that took place in wake of the Godhra train burning incident in 2002. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant directed they perform social and spiritual service. The Sardarpura massacre took place on February 28, 2002, when 33 Muslims, including 22 women were burnt alive at Sardarpura village in Vijapur tehsil of Mehsana district.
The convicts have been split in two groups, one group would be moved to Indore and the other to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. This was done as the advocate for the convicts said that they should be moved out of Gujarat for their security. The 14 convicts will be kept confined to the territorial limits of Indore and Jabalpur under the supervision of the district legal authorities, the order said. The order further said that the convicts will have to undertake community services for six hours a week besides reporting to the local police station on a weekly basis; these were the conditions of their bail. The court asked them to do social and spiritual work while on bail. District legal authorities were also directed to find livelihood for the convicts and to file compliance report recording the conduct of the convicts.
There were two bail applications that the bench heard. The main applicant, convict Prahladbhai Jagabhai Patel said in his application that the sentencing of six of the 14 convicts was based upon one eye witness account. The second application of the rest of the convicts stated that their conviction was based on account of one or two witnesses only.
The bail was opposed by counsel appearing for state of Gujarat saying that a trial court had convicted 18 persons in this case, of which one died and 17 had appealed to the Gujarat High Court. The Gujarat High Court had then sentenced 14 of these accused to life imprisonment in 2016, while acquitting 3. The conviction of these 14 people is in appeal before the apex court at present.
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