Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HC rejects Maya Kodnani’s petition to change judge


Ahmedabad: Special judge Jyotsna Yagnik will hear the Naroda Gam case, as Gujarat high court rejected pleas by former minister Maya Kodnani and two other accused in the post-Godhra riots seeking the removal of the SIT judge from the case on Tuesday.
    With Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and Kishan Korani, who were convicted by special judge Yagnik to life imprisonment in another post-Godhra riots case — Naroda Patia — had sought a change of court on various grounds. They argued that the same judge admitted the sting operation and testimony of journalist Ashish Khetan as vital evidence, and convicted them on this basis. In this case too, the same set of evidence has been placed by the Supreme Court-mandated SIT. They further contended that the same judge cannot reach to a different conclusion on the same set of evidence. Hence, the outcome of the trial was a foregone conclusion, they submitted.
    Before moving the HC, these three requested the special judge to recuse herself. The judge rejected the request on January 11, by upholding the prosecution’s contention that the court was designated by Gujarat high court’s administrative order, and the accused do not have the right to choose the bench. This case was heard by then principal sessions judge S H Vora. But since his elevation to the Gujarat high court, the HC designated new principal session judge Yagnik to preside over proceedings. Earlier, as special judge, Yagnik punished 32 persons including Kodnani and Bajrangi with life imprisonment.