4.38pm: The government has not officially reacted to the Naroda Patiya verdicts as yet, but UPA Minister Kapil Sibal has been quoted as saying, "Jaisa karega, waisa bharega" (as you sow, so you shall reap)
4.20pm: Social activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been fighting for justice for the victims of the post Godhra riots for the last ten years, has said that the verdict and sentencing is a huge moment for the country.
Responding to a question on the BJP saying it was being targeted, Setalvad said, "The BJP can say what it likes, but the rest of the country knows better." Setalvad also took the opportunity to call for peace in Naroda Patiya, saying that the victims were living in great fear of reprisal over the verdict. She called for the people of Gujarat to accept and recognise the judicial verdict.
4.13pm: Public prosecutor in the case, Akhil Desai, says he respects the decision of the court not to give the death sentence. Desai adds that the court has taken cognizance of the suffering of the victims, citing one example in which a woman who was gang raped was awarded Rs 5 lakh although no accusers was named. The Gujarat government will have to pay this sum.
4.00pm: A quick explanation in case of confusion on conflicting terms of sentence. In India someone convicted to a life sentence is entitled to remission after 14 years imprisonment. However Maya Kodnani gets 1o years under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (Attempt to murder), and 18 years under section 302 (punishment for murder). This means she will only be entitled to remission after 28 years.
Bajrangi however, has been imprisoned with a rider that says he will not be entitled to any remission at all, which means he will spend his entire life in jail.Public prosecutor Akhil Desai has just confirmed this.
3.51pm: Prosecuting attorney Shamshad Pathan is mobbed by reporters outside the special court in Ahmedabad, as he confirms that all 32 convicted in the Naroda Patiya case have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Kodnani was convicted under section 326 of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
Meanwhile speaking to reporters straight after the verdict was announced, social activist Teesta Setalvad said it was "a huge moment of victory".
3.45pm: A special court has sentenced BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi to life imprisonment for her role in the Naroda Patiya massacre in the aftermath of the Godhra riots.
The two are among the 32 people convicted by a special court in the Naroda Patiya riots case, in which, 97 people belonging to the minority Muslim community were killed.
Kodnani and Bajrangi were held guilty under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of India Penal Code (IPC) and the prosecution sought the maximum punishment of death sentence for all those convicted.
Citing it as a ‘rarest of rare’ case, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) lawyers had sought capital punishment for all the accused, including sitting BJP MLA Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi.
On Wednesday, during the arguments on the quantum of sentence, lawyers of Kodnani and other convicts had sought leniency from the court.
The Naroda Patiya massacre is the largest single case of mass murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots that broke out following the Sabarmati Express train carnage near Godhra station. The case has been probed by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT).
As many as 327 witnesses, comprising eye witnesses, victims, doctors, police personnel, government officials, forensic experts and journalists including Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, were examined by the court.
Initially, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat Police, whereas 24 more people were apprehended after the probe was handed over to the SIT in 2008. In all, 70 people were arrested in the case.
Six persons died before the charges could be framed and trial started, while two others identified as Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak jumped bail and are still absconding.