In a relief for IPS officer Satish Verma,the Gujarat High Court (HC) on Friday stayed any action against him in connection with search and seizure that he carried out at Ahmedabad FSL while probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter case last year.
Passing the order on a petition moved by Verma,a division bench of HC comprising Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari also issued a notice to the state government.
According to case details,Verma,as part of HC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter,had seized a hard disk from the Ahmedabad FSL on March 3,2011. Verma has maintained that the hard disk contained some photos related to the encounter that were concealed by the FSL till then.
The state government had initiated an inquiry into the seizure to be undertaken by senior IPS officer and the then Vadodara police commissioner Rakesh Asthana. At present,Asthana is Surat police commissioner.
Verma challenged the inquiry contending it was in violation of an HC order that said no action would be taken against any SIT member without intimating the court.
During the hearing on his petition on Friday,Verma appeared in person and told the court that the inquiry was an attempt to prejudice the probe in Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
The court then asked advocate general Kamal Trivedi,appearing for the state government,as to how the state government could initiate an inquiry against an SIT member without even informing the court despite an order to this effect.
Speaking on behalf of the bench,Justice Patel referred to the earlier contempt notice issued against the minister of state (home) in the same case,where the latter had tendered an apology. We did not know that after tendering apology,this would be the scenario. The state government had no business to order inquiry, Justice Patel observed.
Trivedi tried to explain to the court that it was not an inquiry as such against anybody. He said the FSL director had written to the DGP with reference to the seizure incident and Asthana had been simply asked to look into it.
However,the bench did not look convinced following which Trivedi assured the court that no action would be taken against Verma till July 13,when the court hears the case next.
The court has ordered the state government to file a reply to the petition by July 13. The court has also directed the state government to make its stand clear on a request by CBI seeking Vermas services to assist it in the Ishrat Jahan encounter probe.