A Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat has decided to visit the scene of offence in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case. The Court has however, warned the media against “any intervention”, which it said would amount to interference with judicial proceedings.
“Right from the beginning since the matters are being heard, the learned counsel for the respective parties have been requesting this court to visit the scene of incident so as to get a better idea of the manner in which the incident has occurred and to understand the topography of the area which is spread over a considerable area. Having regard to the evidence which has come on record, the court finds that the request made by the advocates is reasonable,” the Bench comprising Justice Harsha Devani and Justice A.S. Supehia observed.
Further, in order to “avoid unnecessary media attention”, the Bench said that it would communicate the date and time of such visit directly to the Additional Public Prosecutor.
Ninety-seven Muslims were killed in the Naroda Patiya massacre on February 28, 2002. In 2012, a Special Court had convicted 31 people, including former BJP Minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi, and had sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The High Court is now hearing appeals filed by all the convicts, and Petitions filed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which has sought enhancement of the sentence, and has challenged several acquittals.
Read the Order here.