Two Gujarat High Court judges hearing appeals of convicts, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, have decided to visit the site of offence to get an overall picture into the killings of 96 people in a mob attack here. The court has, however, not disclosed the date and time of the visit and has prohibited its media coverage, holding that any interference by the media will amount to interference in judicial proceedings. In their order, the division bench of Justice Harsha Devani and Justice AS Supehiya yesterday said that they are inclined to visit the site of the offence at Naroda Patiya after holding that “the request made by the advocates is reasonable.”
“Right from the beginning since the matters are being heard, the learned counsel for the respective parties have been requesting this court to visit the scene of incident so as to get a better idea of the manner in which the incident has occurred and to understand the topography of the area which is spread over a considerable area,” the court said. “Having regard to the evidence which has come on record, the court finds that the request made by the advocates is reasonable. Under these circumstances, we are inclined to visit the scene of offence,” it said.
The High Court is hearing appeals made by Kodnani and other convicts in the case, challenging a special SIT court verdict. The case pertains to post-Godhra riots in which 96 people, mostly belonging to the minority community, were massacred in Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad. The special court had on August 30, 2012, awarded life imprisonment in the case to Kodnani and 29 others, besides “imprisonment till death” to accused Babu Bajrangi, for killing and hatching a criminal conspiracy.
Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in prison. However, she is currently out on bail. Another court hearing the 2002 Naroda Gam riots case, in which Kodnani too is an accused had recently allowed her to call 14 witnesses which also included former BJP president Amit Shah.