Supreme Court doubts conviction, bail granted to 4 Convicts in Naroda Patiya Case – 2002
Umeshbhai Surabhai Bharwad, Rajkumar, Padmendrasinh Jaswantsinh Rajput and Harshad alias Mungda Jila Govind Chhara Parmar were held guilty by High Court last year under section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house) of the Indian Penal Code, along with other provisions relating to unlawful assembly in Naroda Patiya Case – 2002 where 97 Muslims were killed of mob violence during Gujarat riots.
The Supreme Court has ordered the release of four convicts on bail in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case on grounds of that the High Court verdict of conviction was “debatable” and that they should be released on bail since their appeal would take much time for disposal.
In the Naroda Patiya case, the Gujarat High Court had last year convicted Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, but acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani for want of evidence.
The Supreme Court also mentioned while deciding the plea that the identification of convicts that Gujarat High Court had relied on Police officials was in some cases doubtful. It was marked that 15000 people were nearly left without an identification process.
Supreme Court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, “Prima facie, we find that the approach of the High court is debatable,” said the bench, while granting bail to Bharwad. It also noted that Bharwad was undergoing treatment for HIV and that he had been on bail during the trial of the case.
The court further noted that Harshad alias Mungda Jila was sentenced to 10 years in jail. “He has already undergone more than five years of actual imprisonment coupled with the fact that the hearing of the appeal is not likely to take place in the immediate near future. Accordingly, applicant is ordered to be released on bail to the satisfaction of the trial court,” directed the bench.
Prakashbhai Sureshbhai Rathod were released on interim bail between January 28 and February 15 as his daughter’s wedding was due.