Ahmedabad, April 20: The Gujarat High Court on Friday acquited former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and upheld the conviction of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case.
“A division bench of Gujrat HC acquits Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi’s conviction upheld”, news agency ANI reported.
Government counsel Prashant Desai said: “It is clear from the Gujarat High Court’s judgment that the court has gone on no witness theory.”
2002 Gujarat riots case(Naroda Patiya): Gujarat High Court acquits Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi's conviction upheld. pic.twitter.com/XPCejIsE64
— ANI (@ANI) April 20, 2018
“Twelve accused have been convicted. Besides Babu Bajrangi, Prakash Rathod and Suresh Chara alias Suresh Langda have been convicted under the IPC 120 (B) as key conspirators”, he added.
“The sting operation by the Tehelka was not taken into account by the court. The 12 have been convicted with 21 years imprisonment without remission.
“Whatever Babu Bajrangi did was no different from what the others did, so his conviction was on parity. Court believed police witnesses.”
“On Maya Kodnani, there were contradictions in the witnesses’ testimony against her presence at the crime scene. None of the police witnesses have said that they saw Kodnani at the scene.
“The SIT will have to appeal within 90 days to the Supreme Court if they want to challenge the Gujarat High Court verdict,”, stated the lawyer.
Last year in August, the divisional bench of justice Harsha Devani and justice A. S. Supehiya concluded the hearing and reserved the order in the case.
In 2012, a special court for Special Investigation Team (SIT) cases had awarded life imprisonment to 32 people.
The convicts also included former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani who was granted 28 years of imprisonment and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi who was sentenced to lifetime jail term.
Besides this, seven accused were given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years and the remaining were given simple jail term for 14 years.
All the convicts had appealed against their conviction in the Gujarat High Court.
At least 58 people were killed when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was torched at the Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002.
Following by this, on February 28 the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal declared Gujarat Bandh. Around 97 people lost their lives in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on this day.