The High Court, while acquitting the 12 accused of murdering the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Haren Pandya, on Tuesday, particularly agreed with the contention of the defence that going by the position in which the body was found in the car, he could not have been killed by a shot from outside through a few inches wide opening of the right window.
Besides, there were no blood marks in the car. Opinions of ballistic experts differed from the report of the post-mortem and doubts were raised whether the five bullets sent for examination to the laboratory had caused Pandya's death. Also, why were only five bullets recovered from the scene of the crime when the body had seven bullet injury marks? The position of the body disagreed with the possibility that one bullet could have caused more than one injury.
The High Court appeared to have agreed with the defence that Pandya was possibly killed elsewhere by some others and his body was dumped in the car near the Law Garden in Ahmedabad to mislead the investigation.
Commenting on the judgement, one of the defence counsels, B. M. Gupta, said the identity of the actual murderers “may always remain a mystery.”
The High Court judgement has again raised a question mark against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was accused by Pandya's father, Vithhalbhai Pandya of being the “main brain behind” his son's murder. The elder Pandya, who died last year, had always maintained that his son's was a “political murder,” having nothing to do with “avenging” the 2002 communal riots. He believed that the accused were being made scapegoats to shield the “politicians” behind the killing. The former Minister was said to have had serious political differences with Mr. Modi on the handling of the 2002 communal riots and was believed to have testified against the Chief Minister before some independent inquiry commissions that probed the 2002 riots in the State.
Soon after the High Court judgment, some close relatives of Pandya expressed doubts about the authenticity of the CBI investigation. “The CBI may have deliberately botched up the investigation because the agency then was under the former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani, the political mentor of Mr. Modi,” one of Pandya's close relative commented.
State government spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas, however, said the CBI investigation was “in the right direction” and against the “right accused.” But unfortunately it could not establish the case in the High Court.
Keywords: Haren Pandya case