After Maya Kodnani, her then personal assistant and co-convict in 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case Kirpal Singh Chhabda was granted bail on Thursday. A division bench of Gujarat High Court pronounced the order while refusing the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) plea for a stay on the order.
“The court has allowed Chhabda’s bail petition, but refused to grant us stay on the order so that we could appeal in the Supreme Court,” said senior lawyer Prashant Desai who represents SIT in the court. The division bench led by Justice Ravi R Tripathi granted bail to Chhabda.
Chhabda had sought bail on the ground of parity with her former boss Kodnani and also on the merit of the case saying there were only two witnesses against him while in case of Kodnani there were 11. Chhabda served Kodnani as her personal assistant and was spotted in Naroda Patiya where 97 persons were killed during the post Godhra riots in 2002. In August 2012, a trial court awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, Chhabda and 28 others.
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Chhabda has claimed in his petition that there are variations in the witnesses’ statements against him and there is no overt role attributed to him by SIT. Besides, he has said that he is only accused of being a part of the mob but there is no evidence showing his involvement in the attack.
SIT had argued opposing Chhabda’s bail plea on the ground that he can’t seek parity with Kodani since her case was considered on medical ground as well as “being an old lady.”
On July 30 last year a division bench had granted bail to Kodnani on the grounds of her sickness and certain contradictions and improvements in the statements of witnesses implicating her in the case.