The Gujarat High Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on a batch of appeals moved by 32 convicts including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, who were sentenced to life for their role in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case on Friday.
Ninety-seven people from the Muslim community were massacred in the Naroda Patiya riot on 28 February 2002, in one of the worst incidents to follow the Godhra train burning incident of 27 February, 2002, in which 59 kar sevaks were killed.
A division bench of Justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehiya had reserved the order last August after the hearing concluded in 11 appeal petitions including four by Supreme Court appointed-Special Investigation Team (SIT).
In August 2012, a special court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment. Another high-profile accused, former Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel aka Babu Bajrangi, was given life imprisonment till death with a condition of remission.
Seven accused were given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years, which they will serve after undergoing 10 years' imprisonment under IPC section 326 (causing grievous hurt).
The remaining accused were given simple life imprisonment (14 years). The trial court also acquitted 29 other accused for want of evidence.
While all the convicts challenged the lower court's order in the Gujarat High Court, according to The Indian Express, the SIT has filed petitions seeking stricter punishment for three convicts including Bajrangi. The SIT has challenged that there should not be remission for Bajrangi.
The Supreme Court appointed SIT has also appealed against seven accused, who were acquitted by the special court, including Ramila Rathod and her younger sister Gita. "While their brother Mukesh Rathod, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 is among the 32 convicts who have appealed against their conviction, their father Ratilal Rathod alias Bhavani, also an accused in the case, died during the trial," the report said.
Apart from the SIT, the victims of riots had also filed petitions against the acquittal of the 29 accused, the report added. The Gujarat High Court is expected to deliver its judgment in all these appeals.
During the course of the hearing, the high court judges had visited the site of the incident in Naroda Patiya area to understand its topography.
Kodnani is currently out on bail. The trial court had held that she was the mastermind of the violence in the Naroda area. A number of high court judges including Justices Akil Kureshi, MR Shah, KS Jhaveri, GB Shah, Sonia Gokani and RH Shukla recused themselves from the case during the hearing on appeals.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Apr 20, 2018 12:09 PM