The Gujarat government has refused permission to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to file an appeal in a higher court seeking death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya riot case.
The move is being seen as an attempt to mollify BJP patriarch L K Advani, given Kodnani’s proximity to him. The state government has refused permission only for Kodnani’s death sentence while going ahead with four others.
In April, the state government had given a go ahead for an appeal for death sentence to Kodnani and nine others Babu Bajrangi, Naresh Chhara, Murli Sindhi, Haresh Rathod alias Hariyo, Suresh Didawala alias Langado, Premchand Tiwari, Suresh Netlekar alias Sehjad, Manoj Kukrani and Bipin Panchal alias Bipin Auto.
In May, the state government backtracked saying an opinion of Advocate General Kamal Trivedi would be sought on the matter. Now, Trivedi has opined that there’s “no direct evidence” against Kodnani.
Kodnani and Bajrang Dal activist Babu Bajrangi, along with 30 others, were convicted for life in the 2002 post-Godhra Naroda Patiya riot case, in which 96 people were killed.
“State legal department, on the basis of Advocate General’s opinion, has taken a decision not to file an appeal against the special court’s order and not to seek death penalty for Kodnani,” Prashant Desai, who has been appointed special prosecutor for SIT in Gujarat High Court, told The Indian Express on Sunday.
“Advocate General has opined that there is no direct evidence against Kodnani and she was convicted only on the basis of other evidence and hence, the state government should think not to seek death penalty in her case,” Desai said. “However, the Gujarat government has given a go ahead to SIT to seek death penalty for Bajrangi and four others who were sentenced for life by the designated court,” he added.