The Gujarat High Court today asked former state minister Maya Kodnani to explain if her plea for summoning additional witnesses, including BJP president Amit Shah, in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case is necessary.
Kodnani was convicted by the trial court in the Naroda Patiya case relating to massacre of 96 persons during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The high court is hearing appeals in the case.
Division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya today asked Kodnani’s lawyer Harshad Dave to reconsider the application seeking to summon eight persons, including BJP president Shah, as defence witnesses, and reply tomorrow.
During the arguments, Kodnani’s lawyers did not press for appearance of Shah and two others as witnesses.
The high court said its order on the application will have some bearing on the Naroda Gam riot case, which has Kodnani as an accused and which is currently being heard by a special court.
Asking Kodnani’s lawyer to consider if the application was necessary, the court adjourned the hearing to tomorrow.
The Special Investigation Team which probed the riot cases has opposed Kodnani’s application.
The special court hearing Naroda Gam case had allowed Kodnani recently to summon 14 witnesses including Amit Shah.
Her application contended that she needed to examine these witnesses to prove her `alibi’ (she was not present at the spot when crime took place but was elsewhere).
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Babu Bajrangi, undergoing life imprisonment in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, today withdrew his plea seeking regular bail after the Gujarat High Court observed the application should be rejected as bail cannot be granted only on medical grounds.
A division bench of Justices Mohinder Pal and R D Kothari ordered that Bajrangi’s application be “dismissed as withdrawn”.
Bajrangi had moved the HC through his advocate Pravin Gondaliya seeking regular bail on medical grounds for treating eye ailment and also sought suspension of the sentence awarded to him by a special trial court.
However, the HC observed the plea should be rejected as bail cannot be granted only on medical grounds because any prisoner can be provided with treatment as per the jail manual and existing laws.
This prompted Bajrangi’s lawyer to withdraw the application, which was allowed by the HC.
Bajrangi is out of jail since April 24 after a division bench of the HC comprising Justices Ravi Tripathi and R D Kothari granted him bail for 90 days for treatment of his eyes.
The VHP leader had been awarded life imprisonment in August 2012 along with then BJP MLA Maya Kodnani and 29 others in connection with the Naroda Patiya riot case in which 97 people were killed in the communal violence.
The massacre had taken place a day after a coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt down by some assailants near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002 which caused death of 54 ‘karsevaks’.
Naroda Patia massacre case is one of the nine cases of 2002 Godhra and post-Godhra riots, which were investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
Bajrangi is also one of the 83 accused in the Naroda Gam riot case in which 11 persons of the minority community were killed on February 28, 2002.
A designated court of Gujarat today deferred to 29 August, 2012 the pronouncement of judgment in the Naroda Patiya riot caseof 2002, in which a former BJP Minister is one of the 61 accused.
Special judge Ms Jyotsna Yagnik, who had earlier given a tentative date today for delivering the much-awaited judgment of Naroda Patiya riot case, put off the verdict by two months without assigning any reason.
Naroda Patiya, a locality in the city, saw one of the worst riots in the wake of Sabarmati Express burning incident near Godhra.
InNaroda Patiya riot case Ninety-seven members of a minority community were massacred in the area by a violent mob on 28 February, 2002, a day after the Godhra train fire