Disappointed with verdict, Naroda Patiya riot victims to move Supreme Court

Former BJP minister Maya Kodnani

Maya Kodnani acquitted in Naroda Patiya case

The court held that no criminal conspiracy could be established against Maya Kodnani and that of the 11 witnesses that were examined, none named Maya Kodnani when the case was being registered, reported The Indian Express (IE).

The division bench had reserved its order in August previous year.

While confirming the life sentence of another high profile convict, Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Bajrang Dal the court reverse the trial court's verdict against Maya Kodnani. Out of the 16 convicts, all except one have been sentenced to 21 years of rigorous imprisonment. The court, however, reduced Bajrangi's sentence from "jail till his natural life" to 21years' rigorous imprisonment, for maintaining parity with punishment given to other convicts. Kodnani's personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda, who was convicted by the trial court was also acquitted.

The rioting took place on February 28, 2002, in the Naroda Patiaya area of Ahmedabad where a mob killed 97 people, majority from a minority community.

In the Naroda Patiya riot, at least 97 Muslims were killed following the Godhra riots.

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Yagnik said that Maya Kodnani has not been acquitted but she has been given "benefit of doubt". In all, the high court will decide on 31 appeals as one convict had died while the appeal was pending in the HC.

After the appeals were filed in the HC, this case became controversial after six judges - Justices Akil Kureshi, M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani and R H Shukla - recused themselves from hearing the appeals.

A SIT special court sentenced 32 people including Kodani, to a life imprisonment in August 2012.

Kodnani entered politics in 1995, when she contested in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections. Desai said that there was no police witness to testify that he/she saw Kodnani at the crime site. The court further said that the complicity of the accused will be considered. Bajrangi was handed out imprisonment till death. Kodnani, according to the SIT had made a speech in which she said: "Kill Muslims, destroy the property of Muslims".

"We are happy with the verdict and welcome the decision. She has worked hard for the party and definitely, she will be given an active role in the party if she wishes to continue", Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said.

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