New Delhi, Mar 31 (ILNS) A special CBI court in Ahmedabad today discharged three policemen, including Inspector General of Police G L Singhal, in the 2004 encounter case of Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, and two others.
Stressing that there was no question of any fake encounter on part of any such police officer, the Court observed that seriousness and gravity of information cannot be ignored by high rank police officers and that they are always dedicated to their duties. The Court also stated that looking at the material
The three police officials – IPS officer GL Singhal, retired police officer Tarun Barot, and Anaju Chaudhari – had filed the discharge applications on March 20. With the proceedings against the three dropped, the trial has practically come to an end, unless the CBI appeals against the same.
Earlier, in this very matter, former IG DG Vanzara, PP Pandey, and NK Amin were discharged and now the CBI special judge Vipul R Raval discharged IPS officer GL Singhal, retired cop Tarun Barot and SRPF commando Anaju Chaudhari. With this discharge order, all six-accused policemen (out of a total of seven policemen), who were initially arrested and charge sheeted by CBI in relation to the alleged ‘fake’ encounter case have been let off by the special CBI court without trial
The national agency had not appealed against the discharge of four other officers earlier. This was cited as a ground for the discharge of the last three accused in the case. Special CBI Judge VR Raval also noted that “Prima facie, there was nothing on record to suggest” that Ishrat Jahan, and the four others who were killed, “were not terrorists”.
In its charge sheet filed in 2013, the CBI had named seven police officers – P P Pandey, Vanzara, N K Amin, J G Parmar, Singhal, Barot, and Chaudhary — as accused in the case. All the accused were charged with murder, abduction, and destruction of evidence among other charges.
Pandey, who was the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Ahmedabad City, at the time of the encounter, was discharged in 2018. In May 2019, the special CBI Court discharged Vanzara and Amin in the case, while Parmar was abated following his death in September, 2020.
While discharging Amin and Vanzara, the special CBI court had largely relied on the fact that the state government had refused to grant sanction to prosecute the two (Vanzara and Amin) and it had not been opposed or challenged by the CBI. Ishrat’s mother, Shamima Kauser, however, had opposed the discharge pleas of Vanzara and Amin.
On March 20, the CBI special public prosecutor submitted a sealed report containing the state government’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute the three, that is Singhal, Barot and Chaudhari. Taking a leaf from the discharge of the earlier accused, the three in their applications seeking that the charges against them be dropped on the two key grounds – parity with the discharge of other similarly placed accused officers, and also on the state government’s refusal to grant sanction to prosecute the accused officers. The discharge applications did not touch on the merits of the case.
The court in its October 2020 order observed that they had “acted in their official duties,” so the probe agency was required to obtain prosecution sanction.
Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra near Mumbai, was killed along with Javed Shaikh (alias Pranesh Pillai), Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar by Gujarat police in an ‘encounter’ near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The police had said that the four were terrorists, who were planning to assassinate then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. ILNS/SNG/RJ