The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed for two months the proceedings on appeals filed by the convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case before the Gujarat High Court which gave priority for expeditious hearing to former Minister Maya Kodnani over others challenging her life term.
"There will be an interim stay on proceedings in the High Court on the appeals for two months," a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justices MB Lokur and MY Iqbal said.
"All the appeals should be heard together," the bench observed while expressing concern that Kodnani's appeal was being expeditiously heard and that of her Personal Assistant kept aside when both of them faced the charge of conspiracy.
"The High Court should know that the accused (Kodnani) faces the allegation of conspiracy and other accused in the case is her PA. The appeal of the PA is said to be kept aside. How can the appeal of the PA be kept aside," the bench observed while noting that there were 11 appeals in the High Court.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the state government, agreed that both the appeals could be heard together.
The ASG said it was through newspaper reports, he came to know about the matter.
During the brief hearing, the bench noted that the High Court had granted Kodnani the regular bail on the same medical and other grounds, which were not accepted by the apex court in extending her interim bail.
The apex court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT), which probed the riot cases, had complained that the High Court has been expeditiously hearing only Kodnani's appeal when appeals of her co-convicts were pending too.
SIT, through senior advocate Harish Salve who is assisting the apex court as amicus curiae in the riots cases, had said the High Court judge was not deciding its application for hearing all the appeals together.
The SIT also filed two progress reports on the riots cases in a sealed cover on Thursday.
One of the victims has also filed an appeal against the refusal of a judge in the division bench to recuse from hearing the matter, contending that he had recused himself from hearing a connected case earlier.