The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a special leave petition filed by Gujarat Additional Director-General of Police P.P. Pandey against the Gujarat High Court’s December 2011 directive for a CBI probe into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
A Bench of Justices Ms. Gyan Sudha Misra and Kurian Joseph said the petition was without valid and legal justification. Mr. Pandey was Joint Commissioner of Police when Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were gunned down on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. At that time, the police claimed that all the four were terrorists, on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Pandey said he was in no way involved in the case and that he had just conveyed the information received from the intelligence to Crime Branch officers.
Counsel Shekar Naphade argued that the High Court committed an error in ordering a CBI probe and registration of a second First Information Report when the Special Investigation Team had completed its probe and found the encounter to be fake. There could be no CBI probe when the SIT investigation was not found to be flawed.
When Justice Gyan Sudha Misra asked why Mr. Pandey inordinately delayed filing the SPL special leave petition, counsel said he was not a party to the writ petition in the High Court and the cause of action arose only in April this year when the special CBI court issued a warrant against him. Just because of the delay, the Supreme Court should not allow an illegal order passed by the High Court to be sustained, counsel said.
Counsel Kamini Jaiswal, who appeared for Ishrat’s mother Sharmima Kausar, however, said the petitioner, being an accused, had no right to say what should be the investigating agency. The CBI had completed the probe and filed its charge sheet, and the petitioner was declared a proclaimed offender.
The only question
The Bench said the only question to be considered was whether the High Court was justified in ordering a CBI probe. It was not uncommon for a High Court to hand over investigation to the CBI if, in its opinion, the facts justified such an order and if it was alleged that the investigation by State agencies was shoddy.
The Bench pointed out that besides the delay of 467 days in filing the SLP, the petitioner’s name was found in the second FIR and he had not impleaded himself in Shamima’s writ petition for a CBI probe.
However, the Bench made it clear that it had not expressed any opinion on the correctness of the CBI charge sheet.