The Supreme Court has granted bail to all 17 convicts in the Sardarpura massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots, where 33 muslims including 22 women were killed.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai passed the order on applications for bail filed by the convicts pending disposal of their appeal against the conviction and sentence.
Supreme Court also granted bail to some of the convicts in Ode massacre (Criminal Appeal No: 692/2019)
Though the order was passed on Tuesday, it was published only on Friday.
The Sardarpura carnage that took place on the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002, at Sardarpura village of North Gujarat, left 33, including 22 women, charred to death. In the communal riots which followed the Godhra-carnage, a mob surrounded Sheikh Vaas lane, an area mostly inhabited by the minority population, and set fire to residence of one Ibrahim Sheikh, where people had taken shelter, killing 33 people.
In 2012, a Sessions Court in Gujarat had convicted 31 persons for the Sardarpura massacre. On October 24, 2016, the Gujarat High Court acquitted 14 out of them, but upheld the conviction of remaining 17 persons and sentenced to life imprisonment. The appeals of these 17 persons are pending in the Supreme Court.
Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for the convicts in the SC, submitted that that they have been released on temporary bail, furlough and parole on several occasions. The period for which they have been out of custody under the said arrangements ranged from 190 to 520 days. There is no report of their having misconducted themselves or indulged in any criminal activities.
The Bench observed that It is not disputed that none of the appellants have criminal antecedents.
"we find that these appellants have been found guilty by the appellate court on the deposition of one witness"
Relying on the Supreme Court Judgment in Babu Singh and others vs. State of U.P the Bench observed that that punitive harshness should be minimized and restorative devises to redeem the man, even through community service, meditative drill, etc. should be innovated
"We, therefore, find that it will be appropriate in the circumstances to direct the release of the appellants on bail. While doing so, we also find appropriate that the appellants be directed to engage in any spiritual programme or to do some social/community services.
The Court has directed that the accused shall be on bail on furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs.25,000/-(Rupees twenty five thousand only) each with two sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court and subject to the following conditions :
(1) That the appellants shall not enter the State of Gujarat until the final decision of their pending appeal(s) before the Court.
(2) That they shall reside in the District of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and report to the Police Station at Palasia, Indore, on the first day of each calendar month.
(3) That they shall not leave the District of Indore without obtaining permission from the learned District & Sessions Judge, Indore.
(4) That the appellants shall engage themselves in any spiritual programme or do some social/community services for a minimum period of six hours in a week during the period of bail in view of the judgment and order passed by the this Court in the case of Babu Singh & Ors. vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh (supra).
Court has further directed that Member Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall produce a certificate before the Court stating therein that the appellants are regularly engaged in any of the aforesaid programme/services. The Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall also assist the appellants for obtaining employment in the district of Indore.
The Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall submit a report of the compliance of the above conditions and regarding general conduct of the appellants once in every three months initially.
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