In what may lead to a further delay in granting prosecution sanction against the accused Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said it will take at least three month to decide on the CBI’s request. The agency had taken more than two months to send a formal request after the attorney general (AG), in February this year, ruled that prior sanction from the MHA is required before acting against the officers.
The CBI, which had filed a chargesheet before receiving the AG’s opinion, has now been caught on the wrong foot.
What led to a further delay was the recent decision by the CBI to send a formal request and SP report to the MHA seeking prosecution sanction against IPS officer Rajender Kumar and three others. This may also derail the trial as ministry officials said that after examining the SP report, they will seek a legal opinion on whether sanction needs to be given or not.
It is learnt that the MHA may go slow on the request to grant sanction since they have always opposed the CBI’s move to name the intelligence agency officers. The IB, which works under the MHA, had also lodged a strong protest against the CBI’s decision to name their officers engaged in counter-terror operations, and said that this will discourage the morale of the force.
The supplementary chargesheet filed by CBI has charged Kumar, a 1979-batch IPS officer, with murder and criminal conspiracy, while three others — P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede — were slapped with charges of criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, kidnapping and wrongful concealment of facts.
CBI officials also agreed that the magistrate court in Ahmedabad cannot take cognizance of the chargesheet unless the central government gives a sanction. “It is necessary to obtain sanctions against the central government officials under Section 197 of the CrPC, in the absence of which the court cannot proceed,” explained a senior official. However, senior lawyer Mukul Sinha, a counsel of the victims, said, “It all depends on the nature of the crime. One cannot get immunity to participate in a cold-blooded murder while on duty.”
The CBI will also file a reply before the Gujarat sessions court on the petition to make Amit Shah and former IPS officer K R Kaushik accused in the case. The agency said they have not found any direct evidence against Shah and Kaushik and they are going to reiterate their stand before the court.
Birla said her campaign this time is “very similar” to the last time.