In a surprise move, 14 police personnel involved in the Ishrat Jahan ‘fake encounter,' including the state cadre IPS officer and police superintendent G.L. Singhal, on Tuesday moved the Gujarat High Court seeking a CBI investigation into the case. In a petition filed in the High Court, the policemen pleaded that either the court appoint another Special Investigation Team to investigate the Ishrat case or hand it over to the CBI. They did not want the present SIT, also appointed by the High Court, to continue with the investigation.

The High Court last week gave unbridled powers to SIT member Satish Verma to “question anyone or arrest anyone” based on the evidence available with him in connection with the Ishrat case. Mr. Verma was given the sole responsibility of the investigation and the other SIT member, Mohan Jha, asked to look after only administrative matters. The High Court earlier agreed to relieve SIT chairman Karnail Singh, the former Delhi joint commissioner of police, who has been transferred to Mizoram. The government in that State refused to spare Mr. Singh for the Ishrat case investigation.

The petition assumes significance as Mr. Verma has been aggressively pursuing the investigation, creating fear among the 14 police personnel that they could be put in prison. The petitioners alleged that Mr. Verma was “very vindictive and is carrying out the probe in a biased manner.”

Mr. Verma had recently informed the court that the evidence in his possession points to a “fake encounter.” The petitioners maintained that the way Mr. Verma was carrying out the investigation, “it seems that either he has some personal grudges against the officials or is acting at the behest of some senior vindictive and prejudicial IPS officer.”

The petitioners also expressed the apprehension that Mr. Verma could try to create false evidence to implicate them.