Gujarat government’s Monday order revoking the suspension of IPS officer P P Pandey has an anomaly that is being rectified, state home department said on Tuesday. The order also reinstated Pandey, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, as Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), which also suggested that he would be leading the investigations into the custodial death cases against IPS officer Satish Verma, the officer who largely contributed to the Ishrat case probe.
A paragraph of the order reads, “The inquiry of SIT cases entrusted to Shivanand Jha will be handled by ‘him’ as per the Gujarat High Court’s order in Special Criminal Application no 3065/2011…” The order did not clarify who “him” was. The decision came as a surprise since Verma was the lead investigator who, along with CBI, established that Ishrat Jahan encounter was fake.
“There is some anomaly in the order which is being rectified,” Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), home, G R Aloria, told The Indian Express. He said that the Porbandar investigation will be continued by ADGP Shivanand Jha, currently Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, who was holding the additional charge of Law and Order. According to sources, Jha quit the additional charge of Law and Order last year and the charge was handed over to T S Bisht, but the Porbandar custodial death cases remained with Jha.
The reason behind the confusion lay in a Gujarat High Court order that has designated ADGP (Law and Order) to investigate the Porbandar deaths, including the custodial killing of Jasu Gagan Shial, an alleged criminal. Under Jha’s leadership, the state government formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case that accused Verma of fake encounters and custodial deaths in 1990s when Verma was the Superintendent of Police, Porbandar. The SIT is said to have completed this investigation and reportedly found that the Shial custodial death was a fake encounter.
Following the investigation, Verma moved Supreme Court where the matter has been pending since December 2013. In the meanwhile, Verma was shunted out of Gujarat and posted in Shillong as chief vigilance officer.
According to sources, the decision to reinstate Pandey was taken by the government in a haste. Sources said that even Pandey was surprised as the home department issued an order late on Monday night. The reason, sources said, is that state government is due to fill up two vacant posts of DGP out of a total of 4 sanctioned posts. After DGPs P C Thakur and H P Singh, the next in line for promotions are Geetha Johri and Pandey, both of whom are facing criminal charges.
“Johri’s promotion depends on Mumbai special CBI court where she has sought discharge in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. If the court drops charges, she will be promoted. Pandey’s proposal for promotion will be sealed till the final disposal of Ishrat Jahan case,” sources said. In absence of Pandey, ADGP Pramod Kumar will be next to be promoted. According to sources, if Mumbai court rejects Johri’s petition, Shivanand Jha is likely to be promoted as DGP.