Modi govt may not seek noose for Kodnani

Lawyers asked to wait for advocate general's opinion

Modi govt may not seek noose for Kodnani

The Gujarat government has made a U-turn on its demand for death penalty to former minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre case.

The government had created a flutter by appointing a panel of lawyers to seek death sentence for the duo.

Speculations are rife that the government has buckled under pressure from right wing forces. Prosecutors have been asked to wait until the advocate general of the state comes out with his opinion on the matter before filing an appeal in the high court against the special court verdict.

The special court had convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 others in August last year. It had awarded life imprisonment to 31 people, including Kodnani. Maya Kodnani  was awarded 28 years. Bajrangi was awarded imprisonment till death. The three-member panel was appointed to seek death sentences for Bipin Panchal alias Bipin Auto, Haresh Rathod alias Hariyo, Premchand Tiwari, Murli Sindhi, Suresh Didawala alias Langado, Naresh Chhara, Suresh Netlekar alias Sehjad, Manoj Kukrani, Kodnani and Bajrangi.

Special public prosecutor in the case, Gaurang Vyas, said on April 17 that the panel would file a petition in 15 days. It is believed that the decision to withhold the appeal was more political than procedural since Chief Minister Narendra Modi has drawn flak from pro-Hindu outfits like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, besides the Shiv Sena.

Activist-lawyer Mukul Sinha has dubbed it a political development. “Now that the state government is backing out on the face of pressure from the Hindutva forces, it only confirms our apprehensions that all of it was a political gimmick,” Sinha said.  The development has also given the Congress ample ammunition to hit out at the state government.

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