The Case So Far
A division bench of Justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehiya which will pronounce the verdict in the Naroda Patiya case on Friday, 20 April. The bench had earlier reserved the order on the appeal of convicts in August 2017.
Five years earlier, in 2012, a special trial court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, to life imprisonment.
While Kodnani is currently out on bail, the trial court had held that she was the mastermind of the violence in the Naroda area. Another high-profile accused, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, was sentenced to life imprisonment till death.
Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of life imprisonment.
Seven accused were given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years, which they will serve after undergoing 10 years’ imprisonment under Section 326 (causing grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.
The remaining accused were given simple life imprisonment (14 years). The trial court also acquitted 29 other accused for want of evidence.
While the convicts challenged the lower court's order in the High Court, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appealed against the acquittal of 29 persons.
During the course of hearing, the High Court judges had visited the site of the incident in Naroda Patiya – where 97 Muslims were murdered – to understand its topography.
A number of High Court judges, including Justices Akil Kureshi, MR Shah, KS Jhaveri, GB Shah, Sonia Gokani and RH Shukla, recused themselves from the case during the hearing on appeals.
(With inputs from PTI)
Babu Bajrangi's Conviction Upheld
Former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi’s conviction was upheld by the Gujarat High Court on Friday, 20 April, in the Naroda Patiya riot case.
Bajrangi was sentenced to life imprisonment till death by a special trial court in 2012.
Maya Kodnani Acquitted
Gujarat BJP minister Maya Kodnani, who was earlier sentenced to 28 years of life imprisonment in the Naroda Patoya riot case, was acquitted on Friday, 20 April, by the Gujarat High Court.
In August 2012, a special court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including the Naroda MLA at that time Maya Kodnani, to life imprisonment.
The trial court had held that she was the mastermind of the violence in Naroda area.
Was Not Present in Naroda on the Day of Riots: Kodnani
Former Naroda MLA Maya Kodnani, who was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court on Friday, 20 April, had claimed that she was 30 kilometres away at Sola Civil Hospital at the time the riots broke out at Naroda Patiya.
Reading the verdict, Justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehia ruled that the key witnesses’ testimonies were taken eight years after the massacre and their accounts were contradictory.
Thus, the BJP leader was given the benefit of doubt as few police witnesses too claimed that they did not see Kodnani at the crime scene before the massacre.
BJP president Amit Shah had testified is September last year that when the riots took place, he had seen Maya Kodnani first at the Gujarat Assembly and then at the hospital she ran.
Chief Conspirator Who Distributed Swords Freed: Teesta Setalvad
Activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been fighting for the victims of the Gujarat riots, tweeted that “a chief conspirator, is today freed of charge of conspiracy and distributing swords n Inciting a mob.”
Court Rejects Compensation Appeal by Riot Victims
After acquitting former MLA Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, the Gujarat High Court rejected an appeal of the victims of the massacre seeking compensation, ANI reported.
How The Naroda Patiya Riot Case Stands Now
Of the 32 persons convicted in the Naroda Patiya case, the Gujarat High Court has:
- acquitted 17 people, including Maya Kodnani
- convicted 12, including Babu Bajrangi
The verdict of two others is still awaited, while one of the accused is dead.
The acquitted include Ganpat Chhara and Manubhai Morda.
While, those whose trial court conviction were upheld by Gujarat High Court on Friday are: Ganpat Chhara, Kishan Korani, Babu Bajrangi, Prakash Rathod, Suresh Langdo, Haresh Chhara, Navaw aka Kalu Bhaiya and Murli Singhi.
Kodnani's Acquital in Naroda Patiya Case Shocking: Activist Javed Anand
Civil right activist Javed Anand said that while Babu Bajrangi’s conviction was not surprising, the Gujarat High Court clearing Maya Kodnani of all charges came as a big shock.
“Twelve witnesses had given credible evidence in the court which stood cross-examination, despite that, on what ground the High Court has found her not guilty remains to be seen,” Anand told ANI.
HC Was Not Convinced With Evidence Against Kodnani: Majeed Memon
Senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha member Majeed Memon said that the Gujarat High Court must have not found the evidence compelling enough against Maya Kodnani to reverse the trial court verdict in the Naroda Patiya riot case.
'Witness Testimonies Contradicted on Maya Kodnani's Presence'
Prashant Desai, the special public prosecutor in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case told the ANI that "eleven witnesses gave different statements on Maya Kodnani's presence at the location but there were some contradictions."
Meenakshi Lekhi Addresses Press Conference
If They Are Innocent, Did We Kill Our Children?: Riots Victim
Speaking after the verdict, a victim of the Naroda Patiya riots addressed a press conference, saying:
"8 members of our family were killed before our eyes. If they are innocent, did we kill our children? Maya Kodnani has been declared innocent, 2 years later Babu Bajrangi will be acquitted."
Former BJP minister Maya Kodnani was acquitted, while former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi’s life sentence till death was upheld by the Gujarat High Court in the Naroda Patiya riot case of 2002.
As many as 97 Muslims were killed in the massacre that took place on 28 February 2002, in what was one of the worst incidents of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
- In August 2012, a special court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, to life imprisonment
- Naroda Patiya riots is one of the worst incidents which followed the Godhra train burning incident of 27 February 2002
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