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Trial judge appointed for Godhra accused

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 judgment was pronounced.

Judge C.R. Thakkar will conduct the trial of Ibrahim Chunga, arrested on March 2, a day after the special court here pronounced the verdict, awarding the death sentence to 11 accused and life imprisonment to 20 others.

Chunga had been evading arrest and shown as an absconding accused in the charge sheet filed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which probed the nine-year-old incident, in which 59 people, mostly ‘kar sevaks,' were killed when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire by a mob near the Godhra station on February 27, 2002.

The notification for the appointment of Mr. Thakkar was issued after a question arose on the jurisdiction of courts when Chunga filed a bail application in May in the Panchmahal district court, covering Godhra. The matter came before the principal district judge of the Panchmahal court, who recused himself from the hearing, arguing that the Supreme Court had ordered the setting up of a designated special court for the hearing of the Godhra and other cases probed by the SIT.

In its order, the Supreme Court also maintained that the trial was to take place inside the high security Sabarmati Central Jail here. Trial was conducted against 94 accused, of whom 31 were convicted and 63 acquitted by the special court. — PTI

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