Gujarat HC begins final hearing in Naroda Patiya riot case
The Gujarat High court on Tuesday began final hearing on appeals in the Naroda Patiya riot case, in which 97 people, mostly from minority community, were killed in 2002.
A two-judge bench of the high court, comprising justice Mohinder Pal and justice RD Kothari, heard the submissions made by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which probed the riot case on the directions of the Supreme Court.
Special Public Prosecutor for SIT Prashant Desai on Tuesday made a submission before the bench about the role of the apex court-appointed probe agency.
Desai read out the apex court judgement which directed to form the SIT and said before the court how the SIT was constituted to probe the Naroda Patiya case.
On Wednesday, Desai will read the FIR of the case before the high court.
In this case, cross appeals have also been filed by the convicts, survivors and the prosecution agency SIT on the issue of enhancement of the sentence or for challenging the punishment awarded by the special trial court.
A division bench comprising justice MR Shah and justice KS Jhaveri had on July 15 recused themselves from hearing the appeals of the case and said they were approached by some of the accused persons.
A special trial court had, in August 2012, convicted 31 persons and awarded life term to 30, including an ex-state minister Maya Kodnani for killings and criminal conspiracy, while it had also awarded 'imprisonment till death' to former VHP leader Babu Bajrangi.
Two convicts, including Kodnani and Kirpalsingh Chhabra, were granted bail in this case. Kodnani was released last year by the high court division bench comprising justice VM Sahai and justice RP Dholaria.
The hearing was earlier conducted before a division bench headed by justice Ravi Tripathi. However, the survivors of the case pleaded before the Supreme Court to not allow the final hearing to be conducted before the bench.
Meanwhile, justice Tripathi retired on May 6 and the case went before another division bench.
The Naroda Patiya riot incident had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.
Earlier, Kodnani's advocate Nirupam Nanavati told the court that her appeal against the conviction should be given priority and said that her name was not there in the first FIR of the case. On this, the high court said that it would not give priority to anybody and will conduct hearing step by step.