Almost four years after the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, a special CBI court (magisterial) taking its cognizance summoned four Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers, including former special director Rajinder Kumar, for their appearance. Two of the officers, Rajeev Wankhede and Tushar Mittal, on the other hand, have challenged the summons in a revision plea before special CBI court (sessions), saying there was no sanction of prosecution against them and hence the issuance of summons be cancelled.
The CBI magisterial court a week ago had summoned the four IB officers against whom the chargesheet was filed in January 2014. Besides Kumar, Wankhede and Mittal, the court has summoned Mukul Sinha. The last three officers were working as assistant central intelligence officers when Ishrat and three others were killed in an alleged staged encounter on June 14, 2004.
Wankhede and Mittal, through their lawyer S V Raju, have challenged the summons arguing that for want of sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — that requires prior permission from the government before prosecuting government servants — the court can’t take cognizance of the supplementary chargesheet.
During the hearing on the revision plea, on Thursday, special public prosecutor for the CBI R C Kodekar told the court presided by special judge J K Pandya that the agency had sought permission from the Government of India, which was denied. “We forwarded the denial to concerned magisterial court which issued summons.”
The CBI formally submitted a copy of denial of sanction order before the CBI magisterial court presided over by special judge D R Vyas on Thursday. It had “communicated” to the court about the government’s sanction refusal about 10 days ago. The summons were issued after that.
“My submission is that this court may pass an appropriate order whether summons should be issued or not. The accused will have legal remedies if committal of the case is allowed,” Kodekar argued. The judge will hear the matter on January 6.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in 2015 had turned down the CBI request to prosecute the four IB officers. Sources said that the CBI had informed the concerned court (magisterial) about the denial of the sanction and the chargesheet remained pending in the court and was not even registered as a document.
Copies of this chargesheet were sought by the accused and IPS officer Satish Verma, who had assisted the CBI in its probe in the Ishrat case earlier. The court had, however, denied all such pleas. Verma has approached the Gujarat High Court for a copy of the chargesheet and the matter is pending.
These IB officers were never arrested unlike the accused police officers. The first chargesheet, filed in June 2013, is already committed in the sessions case for trial. This chargesheet is against former DGP P P Pandey, retired IPS officer D G Vanzara, IPS officer G L Singhal, retired superintendent of police N K Amin, deputy superintendent of police Tarun Barot and two others.
All the accused are on bail, while Pandey has filed an application for discharge which is being heard.
This chargesheet describes how 19-year-old Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals — Amjadali Rana and Zeeshan Johar — were killed in a “fake encounter”. The chargesheet has alleged that the fake encounter was part of a joint operation of Gujarat police and IB officers.