Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday rescheduled for March 2 hearing on the application of the Special Investigation Team seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail to Minister of State for Women’s Welfare Mayaben Kodnani and State Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Jaideep Patel.

The Supreme Court-appointed SIT is probing 10 gruesome incidents that occurred during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

The High Court also issued notices, returnable on March 2, to Ms. Kodnani and Mr. Patel asking why their anticipatory bail should not be cancelled.

The matter was placed before Justice D.H. Waghela on Tuesday after another judge, Anant Dave, refused to hear the case on February 19 and returned the file to the Registrar with the comment, “Not before me.” Justice Waghela, however, rescheduled the hearing after the court was informed that three witnesses in the Naroda-Patiya and Naroda Gaam massacre incidents had applied to the High Court to join the SIT in seeking cancellation of bail to Ms. Kodnani and Mr. Patel. The court asked the three witnesses to file their petitions by March 2.

Meanwhile, Ahmedabad sessions judge A.K. Ashwani, who earlier granted anticipatory bail to Ms. Kodnani and Mr. Patel, granted conditional bail also to Bulsar Deputy Superintendent of Police K.G. Erda, who was earlier arrested by the SIT in connection with the Gulberg Society massacre.

Mr. Erda, who was picked up from his residence in Bulsar on February 8, was currently in judicial custody after the expiry of his five-day police remand. He was a senior inspector at the Meghaninagar station in 2002 and was charged with negligence of duty and failure to control an attacking mob.

The metropolitan court, however, did not accept the SIT request for further extension of the three-day police remand for Atul Vaidya and Meghsinh Chaudhary, who had surrendered before the SIT last Friday. The two, arrested in connection with the Gulberg Society massacre, were remanded to judicial custody.

Walkout in Assembly

In Gandhinagar, the entire Opposition walked out of the Assembly shouting slogans against the Modi government in protest against its refusal to take disciplinary action against Ms. Kodnani, who has been named an accused by the SIT. The issue was raised by Sidhhartha Patel, who is also the State Congress president but Speaker Ashok Bhatt refused to entertain any discussion stating the matter was sub judice.