Ahmedabad, Sept. 15: The Gujarat government has reversed an earlier decision and refused to permit the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team to seek the death penalty for former minister and riot convict Maya Kodnani.
On August 31 last year, Kodnani, Bajrang Dal activist Babu Bajrangi, and 30 others were sentenced to long prison terms for the Naroda Patia massacre of 2002, in which 96 people were killed. Kodnani received 28 years while Bajrangi was to be jailed for the rest of his life.
In May this year, the state government moved an appeal in Gujarat High Court seeking the death penalty for Kodnani and Bajrangi but withdrew the appeal days later, saying it would seek the opinion of advocate-general Kamal Trivedi first.
Prashant Desai, the special investigation team prosecutor, today said he had last week received a communication from the state government’s legal department refusing permission to move another appeal seeking the death penalty for the former minister.
Desai said the advocate-general’s opinion was that there was no “direct evidence” against Kodnani and that she was not as directly involved as Bajrangi. He said he would write to the legal department seeking clarifications.
“The advocate-general has given the opinion that there is no direct evidence against Maya Kodnani and she was convicted only on the basis of other evidence; hence, the state government should not seek the death penalty in her case,” Desai said.
“However, the Gujarat government has given the go-ahead to the SIT (special investigation team) to seek the death penalty for Babu Bajrangi and five other accused who were sentenced to life imprisonment.”
Earlier, the state government had given permission to the SIT to seek the death penalty for Kodnani, Bajrangi and six others, which means only Kodnani and another convict have been spared now.