Naroda Patiya: HC acquits Maya Kodnani, upholds Babu Bajrangi's convictionLast updated on Apr 20, 2018, 12:25 pm
The Gujarat HC has acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya riots case, ruling it had found no criminal conspiracy and that none of the witnesses was reliable.
It found formerly Bajrang Dal's Babu Bajrangi guilty, and upheld the conviction of the trial court.
Thirty-one accused had moved appeal petitions against their conviction.
But the trial was marred by controversies.
Kodnani: A Sindhi woman's rise to power in Gujarat
Kodnani entered politics in 1995, when she contested in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections.
She served as its Standing Committee's first woman chairperson in 1997.
Kodnani became a BJP legislator from Naroda in 1998 and then became general secretary of the regional BJP Mahila Morcha.
She won in 2002 and 2006 assembly elections and joined Modi's cabinet as Minister for Women and Child Development.
Kodnani's alleged role in the Naroda Patiya massacre
Almost 100 Muslims were killed in the three-day 2002 violence in Naroda Patiya after the Godhra train was burnt.
More violence took place at Naroda Gram where 11 Muslims were killed.
Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in prison for instigating the riots. The SIT termed her a "kingpin."
Apparently, she had said in a speech: "Kill Muslims, destroy the property of Muslims."
Appeals filed by convicts, victims' kin and SIT
Apart from Kodnani, 31 others were sentenced in August 2012. Bajrangi was given life imprisonment till death.
The remaining got simple life imprisonment (14 years). Twenty-nine others were acquitted.
While convicts file appeals against their conviction, the SIT filed petitions seeking enhanced punishment for some, while victims' kin appealed against acquittal of the 29.
The court heard a total of 11 appeal petitions.
Details of today's judgement
Now, the court has upheld Bajrangi's conviction. However, his prison sentence was commuted to 21 years. Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara was also found guilty. Two others apart from Kodnani, Ganpat and Haresh Chhara, were acquitted.
Six judges raised eyebrows by recusing themselves from the case
During the trial, six judges controversially recused themselves from hearing the appeals.
Despite resistance, Justice RR Tripathi decided to hear Kodnani's case expeditiously after delinking it from other appeals.
The SC then halted proceedings, which resumed after Tripathi's retirement.
In November'16, Justice Akil Kureshi recused himself after senior lawyer BB Naik joined the case despite there being a "conflict of interest."