A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. She was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for inciting a mob to exact revenge for the deaths of kar sevaks killed in the Godhra train carnage in 2002. The court was hearing 11 appeal petitions moved by the convicts, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the families of the victims of the riots.
The court found Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi guilty and upheld his conviction. Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara was also found guilty. Kodnani’s personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda, who was convicted by the trial court was also acquitted.
The division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia had reserved its order in August last year. The court heard a total of 11 appeal petitions. While all the convicts appealed against their convictions, the SIT sought enhancing sentences of three convicts, including former Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel. It also appealed against the acquittal of seven accused. The kin of the victims appealed against the acquittal of 29 accused. At least 97 Muslims were massacred on February 28, 2002, in the post-Godhra riots.