Millennium Post

Naroda Gaam riot case: 68 accused seek judge’s recusal

VHP leader Jaideep Patel, along with other 67 accused in Naroda Gaam rioting case of 2002 have demanded that the present designated judge should be recused from conducting the trial, alleging he is ‘biased’ toward them.

Sixty eight, out of the total 82 accused, facing trial in the Naroda Patiya case have filed an application before designated judge Jyotsna Yagnik requesting her to recuse herself from conducting the trial. The application is likely to be heard next week.

Last year in August, after completion of the trial, Yagnik had pronounced judgement in the Naroda Patiya massacre case and held 32 accused guilty, including former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and Kishan Korani who are also accused in the Naroda Gaam case.

Later, the Gujarat high court appointed her as trial judge of the Naroda Gaam case.

In their application, Jaideep Patel and other accused have expressed apprehensions that they would be deprived of a fair and impartial trial if the same judge conducted this trial.

‘We have reasonable apprehensions that if the same judge presides over this case, it will deprive us of a fair and impartial trial, as elements of pre-conceived notion, pre-determination and pre-disposition exist in this scenario,’ the accused claimed in their application.

On 28 February, 2002, in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident, a violent mob had attacked the Naroda Gaam area, in which 11 Muslims were killed.

In January this year, former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and two other accused had filed similar applications, though they were rejected both by the designated judge as well as the Gujarat high court.

In June, 2013, Jaideep Patel and others directly filed a petition through their advocate Hardik Patel, in the Gujarat high vourt requesting the removal of Jyotsna Yagnik as the designated judge on the same grounds Kodnani had put forward.

However, the court refused to entertain their petitions and asked them to first file it before the sessions court.  They were granted liberty to withdraw their petitions after which, they filed an application before designated judge Jyotsna Yagnik, who is also a principal sessions judge.
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