The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday told a special court, which is hearing the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, that the time limit to get sanction from the Gujarat government to prosecute the accused retired police officers, including D G Vanzara and N K Amin, is not in their hands.
The central probe agency reiterated its stand that it had sought the state government’s nod to prosecute the retired officers only due to the order passed by the special court. “Our stand has been very clear since the beginning (of the trial) that there is no need to seek permission (from the Gujarat government) for the prosecution (of former police officers). We moved (a plea) before the state (government) only after this court ordered us to do so,” special public prosecutor R C Kodekar, appearing for the CBI, told special judge J K Pandya.
Earlier, the special judge asked Kodekar, “Su thayu Ishrat case ma (What happened in the Ishrat case).” Kodekar responded, “Atyare aavyu nathi (It hasn’t come yet)”, stating that the Gujarat government was yet to respond to the CBI’s request.
When the judge enquired how long would it take for the government to respond, Kodekar said that the agency wouldn’t know as it would be decided by “higher-level officers”.
The CBI has not taken permission before chargesheeting seven Gujarat policemen, including former DGP P P Pandey, who was discharged last year, Vanzara, IPS officer G L Singhal, N K Amin, Tarun Barot, among others in 2013.
Meanwhile, appearing for Vanzara, advocate V D Gajjar and Amin objected to the CBI’s submission and contended that “too much time has already been wasted”. They argued that the CBI should have taken the permission even before filing the chargesheet. “There has to be some time limit to complete the procedure now,” they argued, adding “that it has been five years since the chargesheet was filed”.
“It is not the duty of the government to come here and give sanction. The CBI is not doing any favour to the court. Let everything be put on paper… This court had said that sanction is required. P P Pandey was discharged on this ground. Therefore, the order of court must be implemented and that too as soon as possible,” they both argued, adding that the CBI should drop its case against Vanzara and Amin.
Amin also objected to the CBI’s submission that there was no need to seek prior sanction for prosecuting government officers.
The court then adjourned the hearing.
In 2014, in the case of four IB officer, including former special director Rajinder Kumar, the CBI had filed the supplementary chargesheet with a note that it had sought permission under section 197 of the CrPC from the central government. After nearly three years later, the CBI informed the special court that the Centre had denied permission to prosecute them.
Former Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Vanzara and ex-superintendent of police Amin are among the seven police officers of Gujarat who were chargesheeted by the CBI in 2013 for killing 19-year-old Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals — Zeeshan Johar and Amjiali Rana in 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
The police had claimed that the four were “terrorists” and were out to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi, among others.