Defending its decision to reappoint two police officials, accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, after their superannuation, the Gujarat government on Wednesday told the High Court that “the case against the officers are that of killing terrorists and the state never granted sanction of prosecution”, and “their reappointment is not so shocking or arbitrary”.
Responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of superintendent of police (SP) N K Amin and deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Tarun Barot, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta argued before a division bench that the “performance of these two officers were always outstanding. One of the officers (Amin) was discharged from one criminal case (Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter). The reviewing officers of the two officers termed them outstanding. It’s not so shocking or arbitrary as claimed in the PIL.”
On October 13, 2016, the state home department, through a notification, appointed Barot as DySP, Headquarters, Western Railway, Vadodara, on a one-year contract almost two years after his retirement, while Amin’s service was extended for a year on contractual basis on the same post as SP Mahisagar district. He is currently posted in Vapi as SP.
Days after the notification, former IPS officer Rahul Sharma moved a PIL challenging the appointment. The PIL has alleged: “The contractual appointment of such retired officers with criminal antecedents is not in the interest of a healthy police administration and sends a wrong signal to the society regarding the rule of law.” Besides, the PIL has also alleged that reappointment is illegal.
Appearing for the state government, ASG Tushar Mehta argued that the PIL is not maintainable for the fact that the petitioner is biased. “Sharma was an IPS of 1992 batch and the two officers were his colleagues. Besides, there are departmental inquiries going on against the petitioner,” Mehta argued. Sharma’s lawyer I H Syed, however, contended that the PIL raises the issues of violation of laid down procedure for appointment of police officers.
Following the hearing, a division bench led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy said that he will first decide the PIL on the preliminary objection by the state government over its maintainability, and then proceed further depending on the order.
Amin and Barot were chargesheeted for their role in the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals Amjadali Rana and Zeeshan Johar in 2004. Barot is also a key accused in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case, while Amin was discharged from the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case by a special CBI court in Mumbai. The CBI has challenged his discharge in the Bombay High Court. Barot remained in jail for more than three years, while Amin was incarcerated for almost eight years in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan cases. They both are out on bail.