27 Feb :The Supreme Court decided to hear a Gujarat govt petition challenging the recommendation of the Central POTA Review Committee for dropping charges under the anti-terror law against the accused in the Godhra train carnage.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan allowed the state government to file its appeal against the decision of the Gujarat High Court which had dismissed the petition challenging the decision of the POTA Review Committee dropping POTA charges against the 134 accused in the Godhra train burning case.
When Gujarat government counsel Hemantika Wahi mentioned the matter, the Bench said state government’s petition will be tagged with another appeal, the hearing of which has been fixed for 6th March.
Sardarji Maganji Waghela, who lost his son in the carnage, has also filed an appeal against the order of the High Court dismissing his petition challenging decision of the POTA Review Committee.
Though the High Court had not interfered with the findings of the POTA Review Committee, it had allowed the victim’s father to approach the apex court within two weeks against its verdict by extending the stay on all proceedings in connection with the Godhra case.
The transfer of the case from designated POTA court to sessions court was also stayed.
The Supreme Court in October last year had held that the findings of the Review Committee to drop charges against the accused under the repealed law would be binding on the government and the designated court.
It had also ordered in December last that all the proceedings in connection with the train carnage case should be transferred to the Godhra sessions court.
About 59 people, mostly Hindus, were killed when the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was torched near Godhra railway station on 27th February, 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 an absconder died later.
Thirteen people were released for lack of evidence.
Presently, 79 accused are behind bars since 2002 and are lodged at the Sabarmati Central prison here while 19 accused are out on bail, of which three were juveniles.
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’ while the Banerjee Committee set up by the Railway Ministry had termed the incident as an accident.