Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has clarified that the conviction of former state minister Maya Kodnani– who has been awarded a 28-year jail term by a trial court in Naroda Patiya riot case of 2002– was not suspended, and it was a typographical error on their part.
A Division bench of acting Chief Justice V M Sahai and Justice R P Dholaria said this in an order last Monday while allowing a plea seeking clarification in the order called ‘speaking to minutes’ of Kodnani’s lawyers.
“While considering the bail application (of Kodnani) and giving the reason for grant of bail, we have not recorded anywhere the word “conviction,” the court order said.
“However, it appears that due to typographical mistake, the words ‘conviction and’ have been added in fourth line at paragraph No. 19 of the order dated July 30, 2014. The words “conviction and” added in the fourth line at paragraph No. 19 of the order dated July 30, 2014 are deleted. The mistake is corrected accordingly,” the division bench added.
The same division bench of the Gujarat High Court, on July 30, had given regular bail to Kodnani on medical grounds and suspended her sentence. However, words ‘conviction and’ were also added due to the typographical error in the order wherein Kodnani was granted the bail. “This application for suspension of sentence (by Maya Kodnani) and for grant of regular bail pending her appeal has been filed by the applicant,” the earlier order of July 30 said.
“The applicant (Kodnani) is entitled for suspension of sentence. Accordingly, the present application stands allowed. The conviction and sentence dated 31.08.2012 recorded by the learned Special Judge in Sessions Case number 243 of 2009 (trial court case number of Naroda patiya riot) is hereby suspended pending appeal and the applicant is hereby ordered to be released on bail,” the earlier order had said in 19th paragraph.
Kodnani’s lawyer Mitesh Amin today told PTI that the suspension of sentence was implemented at the time when the bail is granted due to the technical reasons, but suspension of conviction was a typographical error, which was corrected later.
The issue was raised after a survivor of Naroda Patiya Fareeda Khalifa had approached the Supreme Court and sought cancellation of bail to Kodnani and pointed out that Gujarat High Court had suspended the conviction of the former state minister. Kodnani, the MLA of Naroda at the time of the riots, was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in the year 2007 in the regime of then Chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi. She had to resign after her arrest in the case in March 2009.
A Special SIT court had on August 30 2012 awarded life imprisonment to then BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 others for the 2002 riots here at Naroda Patiya, where 97 people were brutally killed. The massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident on February 27, 2002. She was the first woman to be convicted in the 2002 riot case. She later secured bail.