Sunday, June 30, 2013

Death penalty for Maya Kodnani: SIT moves SC against Gujarat govt's withdrawal of consent

Saeed Khan, TNN Jun 27, 2013, 03.24PM IST
AHMEDABAD: After Gujarat government withdrew its consent to seek death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani and others in the Naroda Patia massacre case, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT has made a representation before the Supreme Court and questioned the reason put forth by the government.
The state government suspended its consent given to the SIT to seek enhancement of punishment for Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and eight others, who were sentenced to 28 years and 31 years respectively for their active roles in killing of 97 persons on February 28, 2002.
The SIT on its own cannot move the high court to question the trial court order or even to seek higher punishment for convicts. It requires the state government to file the appeal and the SIT can join in the proceeding later. The government consented the SIT to seek higher punishment for Kodnani and others more than seven months after pronouncement of verdict by the special court. The SIT appointed prosecutors also and prepared for filing an appeal, but the government asked SIT to suspend the process on the pretext that it was still seeking advocate general's opinion in this matter.
In its application, the SIT has submitted before the SC that the state government has claimed that it has sought the opinion of advocate general on whether death penalty could be sought for Kodnani and others. But the advocate general's opinion can be sought only in case of challenging acquittal, and the top legal officer is not even entitled to opine on the issue of death penalty, said a senior SIT official.
The official also said that the SIT moved the SC during the vacation and it may take a little long before the issue is discussed in the apex court, since this issue will be taken up by the larger bench that looks into this case. "We are waiting for the bench to sit and take up the case, but since it is a larger bench, the judges do not sit together frequently," the officer said adding that the SIT is confident that the apex court would ask the state government not to create such hurdles in judicial proceeding.
On August 29 last year, special judge Jyotsna Yagnik sentenced 32 to life imprisonment in the Naroda Patia case. Since then, the appeals are not filed by the government, though stipulated time for it is just 90 days. 

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