A special court, hearing the Naroda Gam massacre case dating to the 2002 Gujarat riots, has permitted Maya Kodnani, former BJP minister who is an accused in the case, to examine 14 persons as her defence witnesses. Among the 14 persons is BJP president Amit Shah.
“It is ordered that witness summons be issued on the persons particularized in the application, at the appropriate and relevant stage of the trial,” special judge Pranav B Desai stated in his order Wednesday.
He noted that the prosecution — the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court — did not file a reply or objection to Kodnani’s application despite being given time.
“…in the absence of any objections and while recognising the right of the accused to examine defence witnesses, I am of the opinion that the number of witnesses sought to be examined is neither unreasonable nor unjustified. In the event and more particularly when the prosecution has not raised any serious objection whatsoever to the present application, I am of the opinion that the application is required to be allowed,” judge Desai’s order stated.
In March, Kodnani had moved court, saying summons be issued to 14 persons, including Amit Shah, as her defence witnesses. She wants to prove that on February 28, 2002, the day the riots broke out in Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya, she was present in the Gujarat assembly, then at Sola civil hospital, her maternity home in Asarva, the civil hospital in Asarva and her home. Eleven persons were killed in Naroda Gam that day.
Kodnani claims she met Shah in the assembly and the Sola civil hospital. She has been accused of leading and inciting a mob in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam. She was held guilty of similar charges in the Naroda Patiya massacre case in which was sentenced to life imprisonment. She has been on bail since July 2014 on the orders of the High Court.