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Naroda Patiya Case: Order on three convicts’ sentence likely next week

The Gujarat High Court today said it would pronounce the order on the quantum of sentence of three convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case on June 25 after hearing all the sides on the same day. A division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia today concluded the hearing on the quantum of sentence of P J Rajput, Rajkumar Chaumal and Umesh Bharwad who all were found guilty under section 436 (mischief by fire) of the IPC which prescribes punishment up to life imprisonment or 10 years in jail. In their submission, the three convicts had appealed for reduction of sentence, stating that the court has the discretion to grant minimum sentence. In their submissions, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the state government had sought maximum punishment for the trio. Rajput, Chaumal, and Bharwad were acquitted by a special SIT court in 2012. However, the HC, found the trio guilty on April 20 while upholding the acquittal of 29 others. The trio were held guilty under charges other than section 302 (punishment for murder) of the IPC. On April 20, the high court had acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and upheld the conviction of former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the 2002 Naroda Patiya case in which 97 people, mostly from the minority community, were killed in the post-Godhra riots. The high court had upheld the conviction of 16 people, including Bajrangi, and acquitted 18 others, including Kodnani.

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