The Gujarat High Court on Friday took the Central government to task for its failure in submitting a list of names of the investigating officers for constituting a Special Investigation Team to probe the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case.
The State government did its part by submitting a list of names of 11 police officers on Friday, while the petitioner, Gopinath Pillai, had earlier given a list of four names.
Joint petitioner Shamima Kausar, Ishrat's mother, refused to submit any names, insisting that her demand for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation remained unchanged.
‘Busy with other issues'
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari gave another opportunity to the Centre to submit its list after Assistant Solicitor-General P.S. Champaneri told the court that the Centre was too busy with other national issues and could not finalise the list in time.
The court, however, did not take the excuse kindly and said: “We find it proper to observe that the Union government should keep in mind that in view of the observation by the apex [Supreme] court that if a new SIT has to be formed, the Union of India should have submitted the names and action could have been taken in time.”
The Bench said it was giving the Centre the “last opportunity” to submit a list of at least three officers, and fixed the next hearing of the case on September 21.
Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi, on behalf of the Gujarat government, submitted to the Bench a list of names of 11 police officers for inclusion in the proposed SIT. It includes the names of three officers — Mohan Jha, Pramod Kumar, and J.K. Bhatt — who constituted the earlier SIT formed by the High Court and was probing the Ishrat case before the petitioners filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to demand a CBI inquiry.
The other officers in the State's panel include Amitabh Pathak (presently the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner) P.C. Thakur, K. Kumarswamy, Sanjay Shrivastava, B.D. Vaghela, D.S. Jebaliya, D.R. Patel, and H.G. Patel.
The High Court had on September 9 asked all parties concerned — the Central and State governments and the petitioners — to submit by September 17 the lists of at least three police officers not below the ranks of DIG for constituting a SIT to probe the Ishrat encounter.
This was after the Supreme Court directed the High Court to constitute an investigation team of its own and disfavoured handing over the probe to the R.K. Raghavan-led SIT, which was constituted by the Supreme Court earlier to investigate the 2002 communal riot cases.
Mukul Sinha, counsel for Gopinath Pillai — the father of Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, who was also killed with Ishrat in the fake encounter — earlier suggested the names of DIG Rahul Sharma, DIG Rajnish Rai, IG Satish Verma, and Additional DGP Tirth Raj.
Voice tests on accused
In the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausar Bi murder case, the CBI on Friday requested the special court for permission to conduct voice tests on five of the accused, including former Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhay Chudasma and the former Deputy Superintendent, Narendra Amin.
Two others on whom the CBI has requested that voice tests be conducted include Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank chairman Ajay Patel, and the bank's director Yashpal Chudasma, both of whom are still absconding.