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Naroda Patiya riots case: Gujarat HC sentences 3 convicts to 10 years rigorous imprisonment, fines them Rs 1,000 each

The Gujarat High Court on Monday pronounced 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 each for convicts Umesh Bharwad, Padmendrasinh Rajput and Rajkumar Chaumal in the 2002 Naroda Patiya case, according to reports.

The three of the total 16 accused were held guilty in an order pronounced on 20 April.

A division bench of justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehia awarded 10 years' rigorous imprisonment to the three convicts in the case.

After their conviction on 20 April by the same court, the trio had sought 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.

File image of Gujarat High Court. Image courtesy: gujarathighcourt.nic.in

File image of Gujarat High Court. Image courtesy: gujarathighcourt.nic.in

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

"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 travesty of justice... Imposition of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment would be an 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 the minimum sentence.

The SIT and the state government, in their submissions, sought maximum punishment looking at the offence.

In April, the court had upheld the conviction of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the case while acquitting BJP leader Maya Kodnani. The high court found Bajrangi guilty of criminal conspiracy (IPC section 120B) along with two other convicts – Prakash Rathod and Suresh Jhala.

Ninety-seven people from the Muslim community were massacred in Ahmedabad's Naroda Patiya area on 28 February, 2002, in what was one of the worst incidents of rioting following the Godhra train burning incident of 27 February, 2002, in which 59 karsevaks were killed.

 

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 14:42 PM

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