The appointment of the head of Special Investigation Team to probe the death of college student Ishrat Jahan in an allegedly fake encounter with Gujarat police appears to be jinxed as a third IPS officer expressed unwillingness to take up the job.

J V Ramudu, an officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre who was appointed by the Gujarat High Court as chief of SIT probing the encounter case, said he was unwilling to take charge owing to ‘ill-health’.

“I cannot take the charge of new job due to health reasons. I was on a long leave as I had undergone a surgery,” Mr. Ramudu told PTI over telephone from Hyderabad.

“My consent was not taken prior to the decision on appointment. What I have come to know is that only yesterday they have sought consent of the AP state government on the issue,” he said.

The Gujarat high court had only on Friday relieved chief of SIT probing Ishrat Jahan encounter case Satyapal Singh and appointed 1981 batch IPS officer J V Ramudu in his place.

Assistant Solicitor General Pankaj Champanari, appearing for the union government in the case, had informed the court on Friday that consent of Mr. Ramudu and state where he is serving was taken and he was ready to take up the job.

Based on his assurance, the court relieved Mr. Singh and had appointed Mr. Ramudu.

Mr. Ramudu was the third SIT chief appointed by the Gujarat High Court. Delhi cadre IPS officer Karnail Singh was appointed the first head of the SIT a year ago but relieved by the court. The court had then appointed Maharashtra Cadre IPS officer Satyapal Singh who was relieved on Friday.

The high court had directed Gujarat government to issue a notification with regard to the appointment of Ramudu before July 19 and ordered Ramudu to join immediately.

Further hearing on the matter is fixed for August 5.

Ishrat, along with three others Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in a police encounter on June 15, 2004.

After the encounter, the city crime branch had claimed that the deceased were LeT terrorists who had come to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The probe in the case is being supervised directly by the Gujarat High Court which had constituted the SIT last year to investigate genuineness of the encounter after petitions filed by Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar and Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Pillai.

The other two members of Ishrat SIT are Gujarat cadre IPS officer Mohan Jha and Satish Verma.