The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to hear an appeal by the Narendra Modi government against an order to pay Rs 3 lakh each in compensation to at least eight key witnesses and victims in the post-Godhra Best Bakery riots case.
A Bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Vikramjit Sen also issued notices to beneficiaries of the Bombay HC order.
Gujarat’s counsel Ranjit Kumar said they had already paid adequate compensation to all victims and witnesses and that this fact was not taken into account by the High Court.
He said the state was not given an opportunity to be heard before the Bombay High Court. He claimed there was no basis of the impugned order since the state was not even heard on the point of paying compensation to these persons and had they been given an opportunity, the government could satisfy the High Court that sufficient damages had been paid.
The Best Bakery trial was the first to have been shifted out of a state on a plea by Zahira Shaikh, whose family owned the bakery. On April 12, 2004, the SC had ordered a reinvestigation and a retrial “in a state away from where the crime had occurred”.
After Sabarmati Express was torched at Godhra station, a mob attacked and burnt Best Bakery in Vadodara on March 1, 2002. Fourteen people were killed in the attack. While 21 people were charged with murder, nine were convicted by the trial court in Mumbai.
On an appeal, the High Court had last year upheld life sentence to four accused while acquitting five others for want of evidence.