New Delhi: The three convicts of the 16 accused in the 2002 Naroda Patiya Massacre case have been awarded 10 years of rigourous imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court on Monday.
The three convicts – P J Rajput, Rajkumar Chaumal and Umesh Bharwad were held guilty in the case in an order pronounced on April 20 where the court also observed that they should be punished according to the brutality of their crime, PTI reported.
The division bench of Justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehia awarded the three convicts 10 years of Rigorous Imprisonment to them.
The three had sought further hearing on Quantum of sentence after they were convicted on 20 April.
The Court while pronouncing them their quantum of punishment gave them six weeks to surrender to the Police.
The court said it observed the severity and brutality of the crime they have committed against the society and they should be awarded a similar punishment and pronounced them maximum punishment of life sentence 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 a travesty of justice…Imposition of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment would be 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.”
The SIT and the state government sought maximum punishment for the accused after the special SIT court acquitted the three.
The High court had held the three guilty on 20 April though it acquitted the 29 others.
The high court had convicted 16 people, including the then Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, and acquitted 18 others including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani.
Except the three the remaining convicts were sentenced to 10 years of rigourous punishment while one of them was sentenced 21 years of rigorous punishment along with one sentenced to 10 years of punishment.
Out of the total 61 accused in the case, the special SIT court had in August 2012 held 32 guilty, and acquitted 29 others.
Ninety seven Muslims including 36 women and 35 children, from the Muslim community were slaughtered by a mob of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal supporters following the Godhra riots.