Modi government withholds death appeal against Maya Kodnani, others
Under attack from right wing forces, Gujarat government today kept on hold its decision to seek death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and eight others in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case.
The rethink comes after the Modi government came under criticism from right wing forces over its earlier decision to go ahead with the Supreme Court-appointed SIT's recommendation to seek death penalty for Kodnani, Bajrangi and others.
The state government had earlier given its consent to file an appeal in the High Court seeking death sentence for Kodnani, Bajrangi and others, who were awarded life term by a lower court.
"The decision has been withheld for now as we have to take the opinion of state advocate general," Gujarat Finance Minister and spokesperson Nitish Patel told PTI.
"A final decision will be taken after advocate general gives his opinion," Patel added.
Kodnani, who was earlier a minister in the Modi government, was sentenced to 28 years in prison by a Special Court in August 2012 in connection with the post-Godhra Naroda Patiya riot case - in which 96 people were killed.
Bajrang Dal activist Babu Bajrangi was sentenced to jail for his entire life, while eight others were given 31-year jail term each in the same case.
The State legal department had sent a letter, dated May 10, to the office of Government Pleader in Gujarat High Court Prakash Jani, which processes the filing of appeals, informing the decision of withdrawal of resolution dated April 14 giving consent to file appeals in the Naroda Patiya case.
"Yesterday, I received a fax from the legal department informing that the government has decided to cancel the earlier decision of filing appeals. On receiving it, I have asked the Government Pleader's office to send me back the draft of appeals which we had prepared and sent to his office on May 6," special public prosecutor for SIT, Prashant Desai, told PTI today.
Desai, on recommendations from SIT, was appointed special prosecutor along with Gaurang Vyas and Alpesh Kogje as assistant public prosecutors.
"Now it's between SIT and the state government to decide on further course of action on the issue," Desai said when asked if SIT will still seek death penalty for the convicts. Kodnani, along with other convicts in the case, had earlier filed appeals challenging the designated court judgement convicting them and High Court had already admitted their appeals in December last year.
She had also filed another petition in the Gujarat High Court seeking the suspension of her sentence also, till her appeal could be decided. In her petition, Kodnani, while seeking the suspension of her sentence, had also argued that even when her appeal against the lower court judgement was admitted long back, SIT has not filed its appeal in the case and it will be take a very long time for appeals to be decided.