A Special Investigation Team had told the trial court in the Naroda Patiya case that a day after the Godhra incident, 11 witnesses saw Maya Kodnani inciting mobs in the Naroda area, her Assembly constituency in north Ahmedabad.The witnesses told the court that they saw her handing out swords to rioters, exhorting them to attack Muslims, and at one point firing a pistol.However, after a protracted battle in the High Court during which several judges recused themselves from hearing her appeal, the Division Bench observed in its verdict that the witness statements were inconsistent and had failed to prove Dr. Kodnani’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.The court also noted that her name as a key accused in the high profile case came up only after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT took over the probe in crucial cases, including Naroda Patiya.“Maya Kodnani’s delayed nailing in the case cannot be accepted,” the court observed, citing contradictions in the statements given by the witnesses before the SIT and earlier before the Gujarat police.Out of 32 persons convicted by the trial court, the HC upheld the conviction of 13 persons, acquitting 18, including Dr. Kodnani, while one convict died during appeal pending in the court. The court also convicted three others, who were among the 29 persons acquitted by the trial court. Their sentence would be announced on May 9. They are Umesh Bharwad, P.J. Rajput and local lawyer Rakumar Chaumal.The HC also reduced the quantum of sentence of all convicts to 21 years in jail.