Retired police officials DG Vanzara and NK Amin filed an application Tuesday in the special CBI court asking that all proceedings against them be dropped in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The application comes in view of the Gujarat government on March 12 declining to sanction CBI prosecution against the accused.
Nineteen-year-old Mumbai college student Ishrat Jehan was shot dead by police on June 14, 2004, along with Javed Ghulam Sheikh (born Pranesh Pillai), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, Police claimed they were operatives of terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba and that they had been planning to assassinate then chief minister Narendra Modi.
Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser on Tuesday challenged the decision to not prosecute the two police officers and filed an application through her advocate Vrinda Grover in the same court, seeking a copy of the government order.
The court also allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a reply. Advocate RC Kodekar, representing the CBI, sought time from special CBI judge JK Pandya for the higher authorities to respond to this application. A reply will be sent by the CBI head office in Mumbai by April 3, when the next hearing of the case is scheduled.
The application by Vanzara and Amin, accessed by the Indian Express, stated: “…in absence of the sanction as required under section 197 of the (CrPC) code, it is now clear that no cognizance should be taken against the accused. Therefore it (the Court) needs to drop proceedings against the accused without waiting for anything in furtherance.”
The application also sought that “the accused be set free immediately from this case, and further proceeding against the accused needs to be dropped without waiting for any further comment or reply from the CBI.” It is also mentioned that, “to continue proceeding against accused, even for a day, would amount to violation of Article 21 (No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law) of the Constitution.”
Kauser’s counsel Grover, told The Indian Express, “Murder cannot be part of any official duty of any police officer. Sanction is required for a public servant only if the offence is committed in the course of official duty. In this case the CBI has already said that the encounter was fake, so the refusal to sanction prosecution is misplaced according to me.”
Grover, seeking a copy of the Gujarat government’s order refusing the sanction of prosecution against Vanzara and Amin, has appealed to the court to be heard on the issue “in order to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice”.
Her application, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, says that the order would have “far-reaching consequences, not only with regard to A-3 (Amin) and A-5 (Vanzara) but will also impinge on the merits of the case as the chargesheet shows that both A-3 and A-5 are a part of a criminal conspiracy in pursuance of which the applicant’s daughter was murdered. The rejection of sanction for prosecution of A-3 and A-5 is bound to hinder the trial court from arriving at the true facts of the illegal confinement of her daughter and others.”
Meanwhile, DG Vanzara said, “Once a competent authority (government) has declined sanction (to CBI for prosecution), a technical application needs to be filed to drop all proceedings.This becomes nearly an automatic process but now the court has directed the CBI to seek direction from CBI higher-ups, which I can only say is a procedural delay.”
Kauser, who had filed a writ petition on August 2004 at the Gujarat High Court, had prayed for restraint on the then ongoing investigation by the Gujarat Police and had instead sought an investigation by the CBI. Accordingly, her application on Tuesday in the CBI court notes: “It was due to the judicial process initiated by her writ petition that the truth of the criminal conspiracy behind the unlawful and extra-judicial killing of her daughter and others was revealed.” The application also prayed that, “In order to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice, the Applicant (Kauser) be heard on the issue of refusal of sanction to prosecute.”