A special CBI court Friday rejected the application of the Central Bureau of Investigation seeking Gujarat-cadre IPS officer G L Singhals custody for 14 days in connection with the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Later,Singhal was sent to the Sabarmati Central Jail. The court observed that the central agency could not present reasonable grounds to secure his custody.
In fact,the present accused is a police officer. And,this court also believes,in such circumstances when there are serious charges against him and as per the charges he should be sent to police remand when the investigation could not be done without his presence. However,the investigating officer has not been able to produce such reasonable grounds, observed Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H S Khutvad while rejecting the CBIs application.
Singhal was arrested by the CBI Thursday and he was produced before the court today. The CBI tendered a remand application while stating that after his arrest,the agency had carried out searches at his residence and office,and recovered Rs 3.61 lakh in cash,six mobile phones,one tablet PC,six pen drives,one laptop and two USB multimedia storage devices. All the recovered materials were seized.
In its remand application,the CBI contended that the complicity and involvement of Singhal was revealed in the offence. The seizure of huge cash and other incriminating material discloses that the allegations are well-founded and require further detailed investigation, it said.
The CBI counsel argued that the seriousness of the
offence becomes intense when the accused himself is a police officer.
Singhals lawyer Brijrajsinh Jhala opposed the application saying there was no ground for which Singhals custody was required by the probe agency. Jhala stated that the cash seized was for purchase of furniture and for the remaining seized material Singhals custody was not required.
Jhala also argued on the merits of the case and argued on the antecedents of the four persons killed in the encounter while stating that they were terrorists. He said the original FIR in the case registered by the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) still held ground.
DCB officials had on June 15,2004 gunned down four persons near Kotarpur Waterworks in Sardarnagar area in an alleged encounter while claiming that the four were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The four were identified as Ishrat Jahan,Javed alias Pranesh Pillai,Amjadali Rana and Jishan Johar. Rana and Johar were claimed to be Pakistani nationals.
The arguments on the antecedents of the four and Jhalas statement that they were terrorists sparked heated arguments between him and the lawyers of the deceaseds relatives.
Jhala also argued that Singhal had been interrogated at least five times by the Gujarat High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and was also present during the reconstruction done at the scene of crime thrice. He added that since there was no evidence against Singhal,the CBI wanted to fabricate evidence against him during his police custody.
Singhals lawyer also stated that he had been objecting to the inclusion of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Satish Verma in the investigation of the case for various reasons. However,he added,Verma had interrogated him for three hours on Thursday after his arrest in spite of the fact that the High Court had asked him to only assist the CBI in the case.
Meanwhile,Singhals production at the CBI court complex witnessed some dramatic scenes with a number of people turning up in his support. They shouted slogans in support of the IPS officer and against the CBI. Heavy police force was deployed at the court complex.
Vanzara meets top cop in court
During the hearing of CBIs remand application,suspended IPS officer and an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter cases D G Vanzara appeared in the court and met Singhal. Through gestures,Vanzara expressed solidarity with him and left the courtroom within seconds. Vanzara is one of the suspects in the case as per the fresh FIR registered by the CBI.