Naroda Patiya case: Maya Kodnani let off by Gujarat HC; top 10 developments

Former (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani was acquitted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, in which 97 Muslims were killed following the riots, by the on Friday. Earlier, Kodnani had been sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment. However, the High court upheld the conviction of leader Babu Bajrangi, who had also moved the court challenging the previous ruling. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment until death.

A Division Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya pronounced the verdict. The Bench said charges against Kodnani could not be established.

Last August after the hearing concluded, a Division Bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya had reserved its order in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case. In August 2012, a special court for special investigation (SIT) cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment. The trial court had also acquitted 29 others accused for want of evidence. While the convicts had challenged the lower court’s order in the high court, the had appealed against the acquittal of 29 people.

Around 58 people lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was allegedly torched at the Railway Station on February 27, 2002. Following the incident, on February 28, the and had declared a A total of 97 people were killed by rioters in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on this day.

Here are the top ten developments around the Gujarat High Court’s 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case verdict given today:

1) Maya Kodnani acquitted in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: The acquitted former minister Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, in which 97 Muslims were killed following the riots. Kodnani had been sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment.

Kodnani had been currently out on bail. In 2012, the trial court had held that she was the mastermind of the violence in Naroda area.

2) Babu Bajrangi’s sentence upheld:leader Babu Bajrangi’s sentence in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case was upheld by the Bajrangi had also moved the court challenging the previous ruling. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment until death.

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3) acquits 17 out of 32 accused in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: Out of the 32 convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, the on Friday acquitted 17 people, including Maya Kodnani, reported news agency ANI. The convictions of 12 were upheld by the court, including for Babu Bajrangi, the agency added. The verdict for two others was awaited at the time of reporting. One of the accused is dead.

4) ‘Contradictory statements about Maya Kodnani’s presence at Naroda Gam’: The special public prosecutor in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, Prashant Desai, told news agencies that all 12 convicts have been awarded 21 years of imprisonment without remission. He added that 11 witnesses gave different statements on Maya Kodnani’s presence at the Naroda Gam location and that there were contradictions.

5) Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya gives verdict: A Division Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya pronounced the verdict. In August 2012, a special court for cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment.

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6) Last year, had told the court Maya Kodnani wasn’t in Naroda Gam: In September last year, president had appeared before a special court in as a defence witness for Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case. Shah’s deposition started before Judge P B Desai who had summoned him in response to an application filed by Kodnani. According to news agency ANI, had said, “Maya Kodnani was not present in Naroda Gam and that she was inside the state Assembly at 8.30 am.” He had added that from 9:30 am to 9:45 am, he was at the Civil Hospital and he met Maya Kodnani there. The court had allowed Kodnani’s plea to summon Shah and some others as witnesses in her defence in April last year.

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7) Kodnani claims she was at Sola Civil Hospital at the time of the riot: Kodnani had said that on the day of the Naroda Gam riot near Ahmedabad, she had visited the Sola Civil Hospital after attending the Legislative Assembly and was not present at the spot where the violence took place. Amit Shah, then an MLA, was also present at Sola Civil Hospital where bodies of the karsevaks killed in the Sabarmati Train burning incident were brought from Shah’s testimony was meant to help prove her ‘alibi’ that she was present elsewhere when the crime took place, she had said. Kodnani, who was an MLA in 2002, was made a junior minister in Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2007.

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8) Here is a brief chronology of the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: In August 2012, a special court for cases had sentenced 32 people, including former minister Maya Kodnani, to life imprisonment. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment. The other high-profile accused, former leader Babu Bajrangi, was given life imprisonment until death.

While seven accused had been given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years, which they were to serve after undergoing 10 years’ imprisonment under IPC section 326 (causing grievous hurt), the remaining accused had been given simple life imprisonment (14 years). The trial court had also acquitted 29 others accused for lack of evidence. While the convicts had challenged the lower court’s order in the high court, the appealed against the acquittal of 29 people.

During the course of the hearing, the high court judges had visited the site of the incident in Naroda Patiya area in — where 97 people from the Muslim community had been killed — to understand its topography.

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9) High Court judges had recused themselves for the case: A number of high court judges, including justices Akil Kureshi, M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani, and R H Shukla, had recused themselves from the case during the hearing on appeals.

10) Naroda Patiya riot left 97 dead: The Naroda Patiya riot was one of the worst incidents that followed the train burning incident of February 27, 2002, in which 59 were killed. Around 58 people lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was allegedly torched at the Railway Station on February 27, 2002. Following the incident, on February 28, the and had declared a A total of 97 people were killed by rioters in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on this day.

Naroda Gam was one of the nine major 2002 communal riot cases that was investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.


With agency inputs

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