In its order discharging former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others, the special court said that it appeared that the investigating agency CBI “itself believed” that the actions of the accused (Vanzara and Amin) were part of their official duties.
The court arrived at this conclusion due to an absence of endorsement or note of the CBI on the government’s denial of sanction to prosecute the two former police officers. “Considering the original orders of the Government of Gujarat, it appears that there is no endorsement or note of the CBI on the original orders with regard to its future course of actions. Considering the approach of the CBI, it appears that the CBI itself believes that action of the applicant accused was in discharge of his official duties,” judge J K Pandya said in the order.
Vanzara and Amin were facing charges of murder and conspiracy among others in the case. Last October, the CBI had approached the Gujarat government for sanction on directions of the special court. It had sought sanction for prosecution under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – under this section, prior sanction is required from a competent authority to prosecute a public servant.
The court also felt that the government’s denial of sanction to prosecute the two former IPS officers implied the state and central government’s belief of the accused officers to be discharging their official duty. “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, it is clear that the Central Government, State Government and the CBI have believed the action of the accused as discharge of official duty and therefore, no sanction for prosecution against the applicant accused was granted… Therefore, considering the action of the applicants accused as in discharge of their official duty, sanction is necessary for accused person under Section 197 of the CrPC, but the Government declined to give sanction for prosecution. So, they are required to be acquitted,” the court said.
Former DIG Vanzara and former SP Amin were among the seven police officers chargesheeted in 2013 by the CBI in the alleged fake encounter case in which 19-year-old Mumbra girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana, were shot dead on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004. Police had claimed that the four were “terrorists” who wanted to kill the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
Judge Pandya in the order held that “there is no question of any fake encounter on the part of any such police officer”.
“The information received by Gujarat Police was based on sound, solid and correct information. Therefore, it was required to keep a watch and supervision on the movement and activities of the above said four persons… It is further pertinent to note that after December 6, 1992, there were number of bomb blast in areas of Ahmedabad, Surat, Godhra, Mumbai and other parts of India… There were a number of bomb blasts in areas of Ahmedabad… Therefore, the concerned police officers who were doing and discharging their official duties were bound to keep a watch and supervision on all these activities,” the order said.