Defending its decision to appoint DGP P P Pandey, a key accused in Ishrat Jahan encounter case who’s out on bail, as in-charge police chief, the state government Friday filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, arguing that no previous orders of Pandey’s bail, reinstatement and promotion were ever challenged in any court of law. “No grievance with regard to his functioning or breach of any bail condition has been raised till date,” the affidavit states.
Arguing that appointing Pandey as in-charge DGP was merely an administrative decision, the affidavit states, “Pandey is holding only additional charge and has not been regularly promoted to the post of DGP (main).” Pandey was given the additional charge after his predecessor P C Thakur was transferred to Delhi on Central deputation.
The affidavit has been filed in response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by former Gujarat DGP Julio Ribeiro which challenged the government’s decision on the ground that “an accused committed for trial in a case of abduction and premeditated murder” should not have been given the top job even for part time. Pandey is accused of killing Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh and two Pakistani nationals.
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The PIL states, “…the police force of a state can’t be headed by a person accused of extremely serious offence of murder of four persons, especially, when the trials are yet to begin. In a sense, such an appointment is itself a breach of law, being arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”
The state government’s affidavit, filed by Nikhil Bhatt, Joint Secretary, Home Department, states that despite being not connected to the Ishrat Jahan case directly, the petitioner (Ribeiro) had described the case, which is sub judice, in detail. The “answering respondent”, the affidavit states, “is advised not to deal with the said alleged offence in the present affidavit.”
With regard to Supreme Court guidelines on appointing DGPs, the affidavit states that the “state government has amended the act and placed the same by way of an affidavit… The said directions relate to regular promotion to the post of DG and IGP.”
On the aspect of tampering with the evidence raised in the PIL, the affidavit states that it’s the CBI which investigated the case and not the state government. Besides, it says that there are several instances where police and other authorities, holding important positions are prosecuted in accordance with the law. It says that bail orders are passed taking all these aspects. “If such apprehension is to be extended for every police authority or any authority holding a significant position, the sanctity of judicial orders and credibility of criminal justice system which works in accordance with law would stand seriously compromised.”
The affidavit states that Pandey, a senior-most officer, knows that breaching any condition of his bail would have serious repercussions. The division bench, led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, is likely to hear the matter on Wednesday.