The Gujarat High Court [official website] on Thursday acquitted [judgment, PDF] 14 of the 31 individuals convicted of burning more than 30 people to death in the 2002 post-Godhra Sardarpura massacre, while maintaining the sentences of the rest. The High Court Justices Harsha Devani and Biren Vaishnav ruled that there was insufficient evidence to maintain the convictions of those acquitted because under Gujarat law [HinduStanTime report] more than one witness must testify against an individual before a conviction of riot violence will be upheld.
The violence stemming from the 2002 Gujarat riots between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Gujarat, killed an estimated 1,000 people. In 2011 the Supreme Court of India [official website] established a special court and sentenced 11 Muslims to death [JURIST report] in connection with the Godhra train burning that killed 59 Hindu nationalists. In May 2009 the Supreme Court of India ordered the formation [JURIST report] of five of these special courts to hear cases stemming from the riots. The court did not move the cases outside of Gujarat as the National Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] had requested, instead ordering that the courts be set up in the Ahmedabad, Anand, Sabarkanta, Gulbarga and Mehsana districts. In 2003 12 Hindus were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for connection with murders occurring during the religious riots.