The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea seeking fresh probe into the murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in the then Narendra Modi government. Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003, by two unidentified assailants while he was in his car outside Ahmedabad’s Law Garden.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra reserved the order after senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for NGO CPIL, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta concluded their arguments. Bhushan said that several new facts have emerged recently which required fresh investigation into the case.
In the plea, the NGO has stated that “some startling information that has recently come to light and has been extensively reported by the media regarding Haren Pandya’s murder, information which was never investigated into by the investigating agency, the CBI”.
The petitioners in the murder case had earlier alleged that Azam Khan, a witness in the encounter of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, had told a Mumbai court during a trial that: “Sheikh had told him that Mr Haren Pandya was murdered as a part of a contract killing…” involving a senior IPS officer. According to Khan, the investigating officer had refused to record the statement back in 2010.
Pandya’s wife, Jagruti Pandya, had also raised questions over the initial probe in the murder, which was handled by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch under Deputy Commissioner of Police DG Vanzara. Vanzara has since retired.
Pandya, who represented the Ellis Bridge constituency in Ahmedabad, was a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He was also elected as the Municipal Councillor of Paldi area in Ahmedabad and was a strong supporter of the party, especially of the then chief minister Keshubhai Patel.
The CBI had named 15 accused in Pandya’s murder and a trial court had convicted 12 of them on June 25, 2007. Later however in August 2011, the Gujarat High Court acquitted all of them citing lack of evidence.