Ahmedabad: A special court on Friday awarded 31 years rigorous imprisonment to a convict of the 2002 Naroda Patiya, who was produced in the court after he jumped his bail. Terming Suresh alias Shehzad Netalkar as one of the main conspirators, special judge Jyotsana Yagnik sentenced him to 21 years life imprisonment after serving 10 years under section 326 (voluntary causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the IPC.
On August 29, 2012, Netalkar was held guilty of murder (section 302), conspiracy and other sections of the IPC among 32 accused, including BJP MLA and former minister in Narendra Modi government - Maya Kodnani. While pronouncing the sentence on August 31, the court had named Maya Kodnani as a kingpin of the massacre in Naroda area where 97 people were brutally killed. The court had sentenced her to 18 years life imprisonment after serving 10 years under section 326.
Seven other accused were awarded enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years and they will also have to first serve 10 years imprisonment under section 326. Another high-profile convict in the case - Babu Bajrangi - had been sentenced to remain in jail till he dies. As Netalkar had jumped his bail and was declared an absconder, the court had reserved the pronouncement of quantum of punishment till he could be brought before the court.
Judge Yagnik had also directed the Supreme Court appointed special investigation team (SIT) to form a special team to nab Netalkar. Following a manhunt in more than six cities of Maharashtra and tracing him on the basis of his mobile phone locations, the special team finally nabbed him on Thursday from Nandurbar in Maharashtra and produced him before the court on Friday.
Before hearing all the sides for the sentencing of Netalkar, the court appreciated the special team for nabbing the convict in a short time. "Team of crime branch has done a commendable job and this court would like to make a special mention of it," said judge Yagnik.
As the lawyers who represented him before in this case were not willing to represent Netalkar for his quantum of punishment, the court arranged a lawyer for him from the Gujarat state legal aid services authority. "Every person, if he doesn't have a lawyer, is entitled for free and competent legal assistance and the court will ensure it," the judge said.
The public prosecutors had submitted for the maximum and exemplary punishment to Netalkar. While personally making the submissions, a teary-eyed Netalkar repented his acts of 2002 and told the court that he jumped the bail because he he had to make arrangement for his son and daughter's marriages. The court made it clear that he had been already pronounced convicted in the case and at this stage, it was hearing only the part of sentencing.