AHMEDABAD: A Gujarat High Court judge today recused himself from hearing of appeals related to the Naroda Patiya riot case of 2002, becoming the third judge to do so. Justice Akil Kureshi today said, "Not before me" when the appeals came up for hearing before a division bench comprising him.
Twenty-nine convicts including former Gujarat minister Mayaben Kodnani and former VHP leader Babu Bajrangi have challenged the special trial court's ruling before the high court. Last year, division bench of justices M R Shah and K S Jhaveri had recused itself from hearing the appeals.
Riot survivors and the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team which probed the case too have filed appeals seeking enhanced punishment. As many as 97 people, mostly of minority community, were killed by a mob at Naroda Patiya here during the 2002 post- Godhra riots.
The trial court in August 2012 convicted 31 people and awarded life term to 30 of them including Kodnani. It awarded 'imprisonment till death' to Bajrangi. Kodnani, who was a state minister for women and child development for some period when Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, was released on bail by the high court in July 2014 on medical grounds.
Naroda Patiya riot took a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002. It was one of the nine cases from among those related to 2002 riots which were probed by the SIT.