Ahmedabad: A special SIT court is likely to pronounce the quantum of sentence tomorrow for the 24 convicted in the Gulberg Society massacre in which 69 persons including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafrey were killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The prosecution had sought nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all the convicts while the defence lawyers had contested it saying that the incident was spontaneous and there were enough provocations for it.
Judge P B Desai had earlier on June 2 convicted 11 persons of offences including murder, while 13 others were charged with lesser offences. The court had acquitted 36 others.
The hearing on quantum of sentence took place on Monday and is likely to continue tomorrow with the lawyers for prosecution, victims and convicts presenting their submission before the court. Quantum of sentence will be pronounced after conclusion of their submissions.
During arguments over the quantum of sentence on Monday, public prosecutor representing the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), R C Kodekar, had sought nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts.
He said all 24 convicts were found guilty of offence under section 149 of the IPC and therefore required to be treated on par when the sentence is pronounced.
Section 149 states that “every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.” “The manner of crime was cruel, barbaric and inhuman.
Victim’s bodies were roasted alive in the crime for which there was no provocation, much less in case of women and children who were defenceless,” Kodekar had told the court. A lawyer for the victims, S M Vora, also sought maximum punishment for the accused and argued that sentence for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.
A defence lawyer, however, refuted the demand of capital or maximum punishment in his arguments saying that the incident was spontaneous and there were enough provocations for it.
“Since the conspiracy has not been established, asking the court for capital punishment on partially relied evidence is not appropriate,” lawyer for the convicts Abhay Bharadwaj told the court.
A mob of 400 people attacked the Gulberg society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents, including the former MP Jafri, during riots that ensued after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in which ‘karsevaks’ were travelling was burnt near Godhra train station on February 27, 2002 in which 58 people died.
It was one of the nine cases of the Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.