In a setback to two retired police officers, D G Vanzara and N K Amin, a special CBI court on Tuesday rejected their discharge applications in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, paving the way for their trial, provided that the higher courts uphold the order. The special CBI court held that there is “prima facie evidence” against the two officers, and, therefore, their discharge pleas cannot be entertained.
Former Deputy Inspector General of Gujarat Police D G Vanzara and N K Amin are among the seven police officers of Gujarat who were chargesheeted by the CBI in 2013 for killing 19-year-old Mumbra college girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals — Zeeshan Johar and Amjiali Rana in a fake encounter. P P Pandey, who retired as the DGP, is the only accused police officer who has been discharged in the case.
Special judge J K Pandya rejected Vanzara and Amin’s contention that they should be discharged on the ground of parity with former DGP Pandey, who was discharged by the court in February this year. Vanzara said in his plea that “more or less he is facing the same charges as Pandey” and therefore, he should also be “exonerated”.
The court, however, held that the role of Vanzara and Amin in the encounter of Ishrat was “greater” than Pandey. The court came to the conclusion after assessing the statements of police witnesses recorded under section 161 of the CrPC.
The CBI chargesheet alleged that Pandey, then heading the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch as Joint Commissioner of Police, Vanzara, then DCP of DCB, Rajinder Kumar, IB officer now retired, and Amin had met Javed Sheikh and Ishrat during the latter’s “illegal custody on different days and times”. Pandey is also accused of being a conspirator who had discussed the modality of killing Ishrat and others.
“On 13.06.2004, D G Vanzara, P P Pandey and Rajinder Kumar had discussed in the Bungalow No. 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug office chamber of D G Vanzara about the further plan about elimination of the four detainees — Jishan Johar, Amjadali, Javed and Ishrat — and lodging an FIR showing their death in an encounter,” the CBI chargesheet stated.
The CBI has alleged that Amin was part of the alleged fake encounter from the beginning till the end and fired five rounds from his 9mm pistol.