Naroda Patiya riot case: Gujarat High Court acquits Maya Kodnani

Maya Kodnani

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. The court, however, upheld the life sentence of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, another accused in the same case.

Out of the 32 convicts in the case, Gujarat High court acquitted 17 people including Maya Kodnani while, conviction of 12 was upheld.

The trial court had sentenced seven other accused to 31 years rigorous imprisonment, while 22 others were given 24 years in jail.

After a Supreme Court-appointed SIT submitted its report, out of 61 people named in the chargesheet, 32 were convicted and 29 were acquitted by the trial court.

Today, Gujarat High Court disposed of 11 appeal petitions filed in the Naroda Patiya case.

On February 27, 2002, S-6 of Sabarmati Express train, carrying Kar Sevaks from Ayodhya, was set on fire in which 57 of them were burnt to death.

"The court also observed that the statement of 11 witnesses against Kodnani were inconsistent, hence she was given benefit of doubt", he said.

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"The court observed that Kodnani's name never came up in 2002".

The high court had later reduced it to 21 years rigorous imprisonment.

The Times of India reported that the court also rejected appeals for compensation for victims.

BJP President Amit Shah had testified as a defence witness last September, and said he saw Kodnani in Assembly on the day of the riots and then at the Shola Civil Hospital where bodies of those killed in Godhra had been brought.

Kodnani was a minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. The bench said charges against Kodnani could not be established.

BJP's state leaders, who have kept a distance from Kodnani ever since her name cropped up in the case, welcomed the verdict.

Kodnani is now out on bail, while Bajrangi is still in jail. She was the minister for women and child development of Gujarat but resigned in 2009.

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