A single judge bench of the Gujarat high court on Tuesday recused itself from hearing a plea by former state minister Maya Kodnani, convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patia riot case, seeking regular bail on the ground of her ill-health. Kodnani on Tuesday sought the relief while citing her deteriorating health.
Justice Anant S Dave, however, recused himself from hearing Kodnani's bail plea. As the case came up for hearing, the judge said, "not before me," without giving any reasons. The bail application is likely to be heard on Wednesday before another judge.
Kodnani has submitted in the bail plea that her appeal challenging the judgment of the special court is pending before the Gujarat high court since December 2012. The appeal is not likely to be heard in near future, considering this she should be released on bail, the plea said.
Kodnani further contended that the Naroda Patia special trial court had relied upon the testimonies of many of the witnesses, which is not considerable as per the provisions of the law. She has also given details of her deteriorating health as another reason to seek bail, her counsel Mitesh Amin said.
Earlier in February this year, Kodnani was given temporary bail by the high court. However, later in the same month she was denied extension of the release period.
A Special Investigation Team court had in August 2012 awarded life imprisonment to then Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 other convicts for the 2002 riots at Naroda Patia in which 97 people were brutally killed.
The court had named Kodnani, a minister in former Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi's Cabinet, as "a kingpin of riots" in Naroda area and sentenced her to 26-year life imprisonment.
Kodnani, who was MLA of Naroda at the time of riots, was made the minister of state for women and child development in 2007. She had to resign after her arrest in the case in March 2009.
The three-time legislator is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.
The Naroda Patia massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.
Image: Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani is convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patia riot case