The Gujarat High Court Wednesday adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by Additional DGP P P Pandey seeking quashing of an FIR against him by CBI in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
A single-judge bench adjourned the hearing to June 28 after the probe agency opposed the hearing on grounds that a division bench of this court was already hearing the encounter case and hence Pandeys petition should also be placed before the same bench.
Pandey has moved the petition to get the complaint in the case quashed against him claiming his innocence in the case. Earlier,another single-judge bench of the HC had recused itself from hearing the petition following which it was listed for hearing before the bench of Justice H N Devani on Wednesday.
Pandeys counsel,R S Sanjanwala argued the petition for some time. But,then CBI counsel Yogesh Ravani said since a division bench of HC comprising Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari was monitoring the probe in the case,the petition should be heard by the same bench. Ravani also argued that the division bench had earlier ordered to register a fresh FIR in the case and transferred investigation to CBI. He also added that the same court also ordered CBI to file chargesheet in the case by July 4.
Justice Devani asked Ravani to convince the court on the issue that her court could not have jurisdiction to hear the petition as the case was being monitored by the division bench. Justice Devani also told Ravani that instead of arguing before the court he should have approached the Chief Justice of the HC on the same. Following this,Ravani sought permission to approach the Chief Justice of the HC on administrative side to assign Pandeys petition to the division bench which was monitoring investigation of the case.
During the course of hearing,advocate Mukul Sinha who is representing Gopinath Pillai,father of one of the four persons killed in the alleged encounter – Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai,appeared before the court and said that he would like to move an application before the court to be joined as a respondent since he had stakes in the same. Sinha wanted to be joined as a respondent to oppose the petition as Pandey had not made him a respondent in the petition.
Ultimately,the court adjourned the hearing on Friday while giving liberty to both Ravani and Sinha to approach the Chief Justice of HC and to move an application to be joined as a respondent respectively.
In his petition,Pandey – the then Joint Commissioner of Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) which had killed Ishrat Jahan,Javed Shaikh and two others in an alleged encounter on June 15,2004 – has claimed innocence in the case adding that he had only passed on intelligence inputs he got from the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner K R Kaushik about the movements and plans of the four alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists to his subordinates.
He has also claimed that he was not responsible for the day-to-day operational and investigational work of DCB at the relevant time and passed the responsibility of the encounter to the then Deputy Commissioner of Police of DCB,D G Vanzara.