Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday
appointed a Special Judge to conduct the trial of an accused
in the 2002 Godhra train burning case who was arrested after
the judgement in the matter was pronounced.
Judge C R Thakkar will conduct the trial of Ibrahim
Chunga, who was arrested on March 2, a day after the Special
Court here pronounced the verdict awarding death sentence to
11 accused and life imprisonment for 20 others.
Chunga had been evading arrest and was shown as an
absconding accused in the charge sheet filed by the Supreme
Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the
nine-year-old incident in which 59 people, mostly karsevaks,
were killed when the S6 coach of Sabarmati Express was set on
fire by a mob on February 27, 2002 near Godhra station.
The notification appointing Judge Thakkar was issued
after the question regarding jurisdiction of courts arose when
Chunga filed a bail application in May in the Panchmahal
district (where Godhra falls) court.
The matter came before Principal District Judge of the
Panchmahal court, who recused himself from hearing, saying the
apex court had ordered setting up of designated special court
for hearing the Godhra and other cases probed by the SIT.
The SC, in its order, had also maintained that trial
in the train burning case was to take place inside the high
security Sabarmati Central Jail here.
Trial was conducted against a total of 94 accused, of
which 31 were convicted and 63 others acquitted by the Special
After the long-awaited judgement was delivered and
following the arrest of Chunga, questions arose about where
will his trial take place, in Godhra or in Sabarmati Jail.
In absence of any notification by the High Court, and
Judge P R Patel, who delivered the verdict, being transfered
as Registrar in the High Court, SIT had approached the HC for
appointment of a Special Judge.
In light of this, the High Court appointed Judge
Thakkar to preside over the trial of Chunga.
According to the police, Chunga was part of the mob
which had torched the train.