NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from Gujarat Police on a plea by former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, who has been sentenced to 21 years in jail in the Naroda Patiya massacre case in which 97 people were killed by a mob during 2002 Gujarat riots, seeking bail on health grounds.
A bench of justices Kurian Joseph and S Abdul Nazeer issued notice to the police on Bajrangi's plea in which he has claimed that he was in "unsound physical condition", having permanent blindness and had undergone bypass surgery recently.
While seeking bail, he has also challenged the Gujarat High Court's April 20 verdict in which his conviction in the case was upheld and the life term awarded to him by the trial court was reduced to 21 years' rigorous imprisonment without remission.
The apex court, while issuing notice on his plea, said it was on the aspect of bail only.
He has claimed in his plea that the high court order convicting him merely on an alleged extra-judicial confession was "erroneous".
The high court, while upholding his conviction along with others, had noted about "extrajudicial confessions" made by Bajrangi and two convicts during a sting operation.
In his plea before the top court, Bajrangi has claimed that a sting operation, conducted eight years after the incident, was "not even a direct evidence" as per the Indian Evidence Act.
He has also alleged that the case against him was "highly doubtful" as there were many contradictions in the evidence and depositions recorded in the court.
The high court had upheld the conviction of 12 out of 29 accused who were pronounced guilty on various charges by the trial court and had acquitted 17 others, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani.
The rioting had taken place on February 28, 2002, in the Naroda Patiaya area of Ahmedabad where a mob had killed 97 people, most of them from a minority community.
The massacre had taken place a day after the torching of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, which had triggered state-wide riots.