A Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday discharged former Gujarat police officers D.G. Vanzara and N.K. Amin from the sensational fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others in Ahmedabad.
The court approved the pleas of both officers seeking to drop proceedings against them on the ground that the Gujarat government had decided to not grant sanction to prosecute them in the case. The government held that the police officers did their official duty and there was thus no need to prosecute them in the case, as required under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Special CBI court judge J. K. Pandya said that since the government had not sanctioned their prosecution, their discharge pleas would be allowed and the case against them would be dropped.
Under Section 197 of the CrPC, the State government's sanction is necessary for prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of official duty.
The court had in the past rejected their discharge applications in the same case.
CBI, the prosecuting agency, has told the court that sanction was not granted to prosecute the two officials, who were chargesheeted as key accused in the fake encounter case, which was jointly executed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch and officials of the country’s top spy agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Both officers, posted in the Ahmedabad Crime Branch at the time of incident, had been charged with conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder in the Ishrat Jahan case by the CBI.
Former Gujarat police chief P.P. Pandey was discharged in the case last year. He had spent nearly 19 months in jail before being let out on bail in February 2015.
Mumbra resident Ishrat Jehan, then 19 years old, and three others, were killed in June 2004 near Ahmedabad by Gujarat police officers in a joint operation with officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). After the encounter, the police had claimed that they were Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) terrorists and were tasked with a mission to assassinate Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat.
During the course of hearing, the application seeking to drop the proceedings was opposed by senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, who appeared for Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser, contending that the pleas of the police officers were “untenable in law and unsustainable on facts”, and that the State government was not the appropriate authority to refuse sanction to prosecute the two officers in the said crime.
It is learnt that Shamima Kauser is likely to move High Court challenging the lower court’s order to drop proceedings against the key accused in the case.