A Gujarat High Court judge on Thursday refused to hear the petition of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) challenging the anticipatory bail granted to state minister Dr Maya Kodnani. She is wanted for her alleged role in 2002 Gujarat riots.
Justice A.S. Dave merely said “not before me” when the matter came up for hearing, not explaining the reason for his refusal. Court sources, however, said Dave was unhappy with the widespread criticism of his decision to grant bail to many of the riots accused.
The high court chief justice will now have to assign the matter to another judge and fix a fresh date for hearing.
The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which is re-investigating nine major 2002 riots cases, approached the high court after its alleged negligence allowed a sessions court to grant bail to Kodnani and a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Dr Jaideep Patel.
The SIT’s blunder was first reported by HT on Wednesday — in an affidavit, SIT had stated it did not require the accused for further investigation.
In its appeal filed in the high court, a red-faced SIT is said to have admitted to its earlier mistake of not having “sought the custodial interrogation of the accused”. It has now asked the court to cancel the anticipatory bail granted to the two accused so it can question them.
In its affidavit, the SIT has stated at least 15 witnesses saw Kodnani and Patel in the Muslim-dominated Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam localities in Ahmedabad, instigating the mob on February 28, 2002.
The Naroda locality saw the most killings (at least 95 people) during the riots. The incident took place a day after the Sabarmati Express was set ablaze in Godhra.