Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday admitted appeals of 27 convicts awarded life sentence by special courts in two cases of riots which took place in Ode village in 2002 after the train carnage in Godhra.
Designated Judge Poonam Singh had, on April 12, awarded life imprisonment to 18 people and sentenced five others to seven years in jail for the massacre of 23 persons who were burnt alive in Piravali Bhagol area of Ode in Anand district. Twenty-three other accused were acquitted.
On May 4, another designated judge RM Sarin sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment for the murder of three people in the riot at Malav Bhagol area of Ode. Thirty persons were acquitted in the case.
Both riots took place on March 1, 2002 in the wake of Sabarmati Express burning incident near Godhra station.
All the convicts have challenged the verdicts. "Today the Division bench of justices Ravi Tripathi and Paresh Upadhaya admitted appeals in both cases," said state government`s Special Counsel JM Panchal.
"In our appeals we have prayed the HC to quash and set aside designated judges` orders awarding life imprisonment," said advocate Pravin Gondalia, who is representing the convicts.
During the trial, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which probed the cases, had demanded capital punishment for the convicts. However, the Supreme Court-appointed agency has not yet filed appeals in the HC against either the life term or the acquittals.
The Piravali Bhagol case saw second largest number of accused getting life sentence in the post-Godhra related incidents. Earlier, in the Sardarpura riot case of Mehsana district 31 persons were handed down life term.
The Ode riots were among the nine cases probed by SIT, led by former CBI Director RK Raghavan.