A division judge bench of the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday recused itself from hearing a plea by former state minister Maya Kodnani, convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patia riot case, seeking regular bail on the ground of her ill-health.
Kodnani, who is serving a life term in connection with 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, has sought regular bail from the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday. Challenging the witnesses for giving ‘embellished statements’ agaisnt her, Kodnani moved the bail application on the merits of the case even when her petition challenging the lower court’s order is pending.
The matter was placed before the division bench of justices AS Dave and Sonia Gokani who recused themselves from the case. Kodnani’s lawyer Mitesh Amin said that the matter is likely to be taken up on Wednesday. He said the bail application has been filed solely on the grounds of merit.
“We have filed the bail application on merit since witnesses are not credible. There are contradiction in the statements of witnesses. There are two witnesses whose statements are contradictory yet the court relied upon them. The court believed some of the versions of these witnesses while it rejected other versions of the same witnesses. It can’t happen this way since a witness is credible or he is lying. Besides, we have evidence showing that Kodnani was not there at the spot (Naroda Patiya),” Amin said adding that move against the lower court’s order is belated.
Kodnani has also cited her health condition as ground for her regular bail. He is suffering from intestinal tuberculosis and undergoing electric shock therapy for the last couple of months. Kodnani has also submitted that her appeal challening the judgement of special court that gave the verdict is pending before the Gujarat High Court since December 2012. She has stated that since her appeal is not likely to be heard in near future, therefore she moved the bail application on merit.
A special SIT court in August 2012 had awarded life imprisonment to then BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 others in Naroda Patiya massacre case in which 97 people were killed.
The court had named Kodnani, a minister in former Gujarat Chief Minster Narendra Modi’s cabinet, as “a kingpin of riots.” Kodnani was MLA of Naroda at the time of riots. She was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in 2007. The three-time legislator is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.