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2002 riots: Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani granted bail by HC

Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patia riot case, was granted regular bail by the High Court on Wednesday.

Earlier in February this year, Kodnani was given temporary bail by the same court. However, later in the same month she was denied extension of the release period.

In her bail plea, Kodnani had submitted that her appeal challenging the judgement of special court is pending before the Gujarat High Court since December 2012. The appeal is not likely to be heard in near future, considering this she should be released on bail, the plea said.

Kodnani further contended that the Naroda Patia special trial court had relied upon the testimonies of many of the witnesses, which is not considerable as per the provisions of the law.

She has also given details of her deteriorating health as another reason to seek bail, her counsel Mitesh Amin said.

Importantly, Kodnani bail had come up for hearing before a single judge bench of Justice Anant Dave on July 15. However, the bench recused itself from hearing the plea. As the case came up for hearing, the judge said, “not before me,” without giving any reasons.

Later the case was posted for hearing before another bench, which gave the verdict today.

A Special SIT court had in August 2012 awarded life imprisonment to then BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 other convicts for the 2002 riots at Naroda Patia in which 97 people were brutally killed.

The court had named Kodnani, a minister in former Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, as “a kingpin of riots” in Naroda area and sentenced her to 26-year life imprisonment.

Kodnani, who was MLA of Naroda at the time of riots, was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in 2007. She had to resign after her arrest in the case in March 2009.

The three-time legislator is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.

The Naroda Patia massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

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