The drama over absconding Additional Director General of Police P P Pandey in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case finally ended at the Sabarmati Central Jail on Tuesday. After nearly three months of avoiding arrest,Pandey surrendered before a CBI court and was taken in judicial custody till August 27.
With this,Pandey became the fifth and the senior most IPS officer of Gujarat cadre lodged in jail in alleged fake encounter cases.
After the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea on Monday and indicted him,Pandey quietly walked into the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of CBI H S Khutwad,along with his relatives,supporters and friends,and surrendered himself. He is among the seven policemen chargesheeted by the CBI on July 3 for conspiracy,wrongful confinement,abduction and killing of Ishrat Jahan,Javed Sheikh,Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana on June 15,2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Pandeys lawyer argued against his custody under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,which mandates prior government approval before arresting a government servant. His lawyer,Ajay Choksi,said that the CBI till this date hadnt sought any permission required under this section. Simultaneously,the CBI moved an application for a 14-day remand to interrogate him.
The court will order on both the matters on Wednesday.
Pandey had gone underground since August 6. After his anticipatory bail was rejected by the Gujarat High Court,the CBI had launched a hunt to arrest him. State DGP Amitabh Pathak had sent letters to all police chiefs in districts and cities to look out for Pandey. However,sources said that during this time Pandey remained confined to his home at Shahibaug,and did not venture out except to meet VHP-linked godman Swami Akhileshwardasji. Police personnel at Akhileshwardasjis ashram said that Pandey had visited the place twice.
During the investigation of the Ishrat Jahan case Pandey was questioned by the CBI once on April 19. Fearing arrest,he ducked two summons issued on April 22 and 24 by the CBI and since then remained underground. He is said to have sought refuge in Lucknow at his brothers place after which he moved to Kanpur and Muzzafarnagar. A CBI court issued arrest warrant against Pandey on May 2. On June 22,Pandey was proclaimed absconder by the same court.
In the meanwhile,Pandey knocked the door of the judiciary right from the CBI court and HC to the Supreme Court for quashing the FIR against him and giving him protection from getting arrested. On July 29,he surfaced in a private hospital in Shahibaug and was taken to the court on a stretcher. He made his presence for a week in wheelchair till August 6 when his anticipatory bail was rejected by a special CBI court.