Former IPS officer D G Vanzara, a key accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, has filed an application before the special CBI court seeking discharge from the case, calling the CBI’s chargesheet in the case as “politically motivated”. The special court on Monday issued notice to the CBI, directing the agency to reply by March 28.
In his discharge application, Vanzara has claimed that the CBI’s chargesheet is “politically motivated… with a view to topple the democratically-elected (Gujarat) government, (and the) entire plot appears to have been deployed by the then central government (led by the UPA)…” He has also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister, was “interrogated” by the police in connection with the alleged fake encounter case.
“The fact also remains that, the then Chief Minister and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also called by the IO (investigating officer) and was interrogated, however such material is not placed on record of this case…the fact remains that, it was the intention on part of the then investigating team, which had included one Satish Verma, IPS, was any how on mission so as to reach the then Chief Minister of the state and to rope him as the accused in this case…and for that purpose the story of this whole chargesheet is created and concocted,” Vanzara’s application, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, stated.
A senior police officer, who was part of the investigation, however, denied Vanzara’s claim that Modi was interrogated by the investigating officer. “It is a complete lie,” the officer said, requesting anonymity. Vanzara has also claimed in his application that none of the witnesses in the case are reliable. “The statements of witnesses, which have been recorded under section 164 (5) of the CrPC, are highly suspicious,” he claimed.
Vanzara has sought discharge on the ground of parity with former Director General of Police P P Pandey. Pandey was discharged by the court on February 21 on various grounds, including lack of sanction for prosecuting government servant, no strong prima facie case against him and unreliable witnesses. Vanzara has said that “more or less he is also facing the same charges as Pandey” and therefore, he should also be “exonerated”.
The former Deputy Inspector General of Gujarat said that the CBI in its chargesheet named only seven policemen out of the total 19 accused who were named in the FIR. Citing a court judgment, Vanzara stated: “The investigating officer is not vested with the power of pardon even during the course of investigation.”
He has argued that charges cannot be framed based on the statements of the accused who were “converted into witnesses” — police inspectors Devendragiri H Goswami and Ramesh I Patel, then sub-inspectors Ibrahim K Chauhan, Chetan J Goswami Bharatsinh A Chavda, Kalubhai S Desai, and Mohan N Menat among others — by the central probe agency.
“Prima facie it appears that the cited witnesses, out of whom a majority were cited accused in the FIR, might have agreed to falsely implicate him and others with the intention to save themselves from the prosecution…” “The entire material is nothing but a bundle of papers which have been falsely created with cooked up story so as to falsely involve the applicant and with intention to falsely create possible involvement of the then chief minister (Narendra Modi),” the application stated.
The CBI had filed its chargesheet in the case in 2013 against seven policemen, including P P Pandey, Vanzara, Deputy Inspector General G L Singhal, DSP (retired) N K Amin, Deputy Superintendent of Police (retired) Tarun Barot and others for “kidnapping and murdering 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan, a resident of Mumbai, her friend Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals in 2004. Last year, Vanzara was discharged in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram fake encounter cases.