Former Minister Maya Kodnani was on Friday acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case. It, however, upheld the life imprisonment of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and commuted his sentence to 21 years in prison.
Dr. Kodnani’s personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda, was also acquitted. In total, the court upheld the conviction of 12 persons and acquitted 16 who were found guilty by a special court.
A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justices Harsha Devani and A.S Supehiya, reserved the order last August after the conclusion of the hearing.
In August 2012, the special court sentenced 32 people, including Dr. Kodnani and Bajrangi. Dr. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in jail. The court acquitted 29 others for want of evidence.
While the convicts challenged the court’s order in the High Court, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case appealed against the acquittal of 29 people.
Naroda Patiya riots followed the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, in which 59 ”kar sevaks” were killed.
The division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia had reserved its order in August last year. The court heard a total of 11 appeal petitions. While all the convicts appealed against their convictions, the SIT sought enhancing sentences of three convicts, including former Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel. It also appealed against the acquittal of seven accused. The kin of the victims appealed against the acquittal of 29 accused. At least 97 Muslims were massacred on February 28, 2002, in the post-Godhra riots.