Almost five months after the Gujarat High Court suspended the conviction of Maya Kodnani for the 2002 riots, while granting bail to the former state minister on medical grounds, it has clarified that the word “conviction” had crept into its order due to a “typographical mistake”.
The High Court on Monday ordered the deletion of the word from its bail order following objections raised in a petition challenging her bail.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court also clarified that the original order issued on July 30 should not be used as a precedent.
Kodnani had been sentenced to 28 years in jail for her role in the 2002 riots and the original order — with the “typographical mistake” — had sparked a controversy. The issue was also raised in Supreme Court by the lawyers of Farida A Khalifa, a survivor of the riots in Naroda Patiya, who sought the cancellation of the bail order.
On Monday, Kodnani’s lawyers approached Gujarat High Court seeking a modification, following which a two-judge bench headed by the acting chief justice noted that it had never recorded the word “conviction” and ordered its deletion.
Kodnani’s lawyers had swung into action after Khalifa’s counsel, during arguments in Supreme Court on December 5 and 12, questioned how and why the former minister’s conviction was stayed by the High Court.
Khalifa’s lawyers told a bench, led by Chief Justice H L Dattu, that it was unprecedented that a conviction in a murder case had been stayed, and pressed that the bail order be recalled.
It was when the matter got adjourned to December 17 that Kodnani’s lawyers rushed to the Gujarat High Court. Allowing their plea, the HC said: “While considering the bail application and giving reason for grant of bail, we have not recorded anywhere the word ‘conviction’.
However, it appears that due to typographical mistake, the words ‘conviction and’ have been added in fourth line at paragraph No.19 of the order dated 30.7.2014. The words ‘conviction and’ added in fourth line at paragraph No. 19 of the order dated 30.7.2014 are deleted. The mistake is corrected accordingly.”
On Wednesday, when Khalifa’s petition came up for hearing again in the Supreme Court, the CJI-led bench adjudged the merits of the petition and dismissed the plea to cancel Kodnani’s bail. It, however, clarified that the July 30 bail order “shall not be treated as a precedent in any other case”.
The apex court also asked Gujarat High Court to expedite the hearing of a batch of appeals filed by convicts in the Naroda Patiya riots case, one of the bloodiest episodes of the three-day violence that rocked Gujarat during Narendra Modi’s first term as Chief Minister. According to official figures, 95 people —- 30 men, 32 women and 33 children —- were massacred in the area