The Gujarat government on Tuesday has given in to Special Investigation Team (SIT)'s death sentence demand for former minister Maya Kodnani and nine others accused of initiating the 2002 Narada Patiya riots.
Assistant public prosecutor Gaurang Vyas told PTI, "The legal department has formed a panel of three advocates who have been asked to prepare an appeal to be filed in the High Court and seek death sentence for 10 convicts in the case, including Kodnani and Bajrangi, who were awarded life sentence by the trial court."
Kodnani, a former minister in Modi's government, Bajarang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and eight others were convicted of killing 97 people in the riots following the Godhra train massacre.
SIT has been demanding severe punishment for the ten accused - Kodnani, Bajrangi, Naresh Chhara, Morli Sindhi, Haresh Rathod, Suresh Langado, Premchand Tiwari, Manoj Sindhi, Bipin Panchal and Suresh alias Shehzad.
Kodnani, who was once a close aide to chief minister Narendra Modi, has also been accused of distributing arms among the mob and firing a pistol in the riots.
In August 2012, the Special Court sentenced Kodnani to 28 years in prison, while Babu Bajrangi was sentenced to life. The other eight were each meted a 31-year jail term.
Generally, the time limit to file an appeal to High Court against a lower court's order is three months. In this case, the state government will file an appeal after seven months.
A panel of three lawyers - Gaurang Vyas, Alpesh Khogje and Prashant Desai - will appeal to the Gujarat High Court on behalf of the state government.
For 22 other convicts who were given a 24-year jail term in the case, the investigation team will press for their terms to be extended to 30 years. It will also challenge the court's order acquitting 29 others.