Ishrat Jahan encounter: CBI court rejects discharge pleas of ex-cops DG Vanzara, NK Amin

Ishrat Jahan was killed along with her friend Javed Shaikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

A Special CBI court Tuesday rejected the discharge applications of DG Vanzara and NK Amin who are accused in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case. Vanzara, who is out on bail, is accused of planning the encounter that was allegedly staged by a joint team of the Gujarat Police and officers of the Intelligence Bureau. Retired superintendent of police NK Amin is co-accused in the case. The duo had moved the discharge plea after their then superior officer, retired Director General of Police P P Pandey, was discharged.

The court refused to discharge Vanzara and Amin on the ground of parity with Pandey. The court held that the role of these two accused is “greater” than the retired DGP.

The court asked the CBI whether it wanted to obtain sanction from the state government for prosecuting these two former officers or not. The court said if CBI can’t get sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — required for prosecuting a government servant–it should inform the court accordingly. The CBI has not sought the state government’s sanction in this.

However, the agency had sought permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of four accused IB officers. which was not granted. There are four accused officers of Intelligence Bureau who were also chargesheeted in 2014 that includes former special director Rajinder Kumar. This chargesheet is pending since then before a magisterial court of CBI for taking cognisance.

In his discharge application, Vanzara had claimed that the CBI’s chargesheet is “politically motivated… with a view to topple the democratically-elected (Gujarat) government, (and the) entire plot appears to have been deployed by the then central government (led by the UPA)…” He also dragged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister, by claiming that even PM was “interrogated” by the CBI in connection with the alleged fake encounter case.

“The fact also remains that, the then Chief Minister and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also called by the IO (investigating officer) and was interrogated, however, such material is not placed on the record of this case…the fact remains that, it was the intention on part of the then investigating team, which had included one Satish Verma, IPS, was anyhow on mission so as to reach the then Chief Minister of the state and to rope him as the accused in this case…and for that purpose the story of this whole chargesheet is created and concocted,” Vanzara’s discharge plea had claimed.

Vanzara had claimed that none of the witnesses in the case are reliable. “The statements of witnesses, which have been recorded under section 164 (5) of the CrPC, are highly suspicious,” he claimed. He also sought parity with former DGP Pandey who was discharged by the court on February 21 on various grounds, including lack of sanction for prosecuting government servant, no strong prima facie case against him and unreliable witnesses. Vanzara has said that “more or less he is also facing the same charges as Pandey” and therefore, he should also be “exonerated”.

He contended that the CBI in its chargesheet named only seven policemen out of the total 19 accused who were named in the FIR. Citing a court judgment, Vanzara stated: “The investigating officer is not vested with the power of pardon even during the course of investigation.”

Jahan’s mother, Shamim Kauser, had earlier opposed the pleas of the retired police officers, stating that her daughter was abducted, kept in illegal confinement and murdered by the Gujarat Police officers and this was “falsely projected as an encounter killing”. The mother also opposed the pleas on the ground that “accused cannot be discharged even before the supplementary chargesheet is placed before this court”. The supplementary chargesheet is pending with the special CBI court (magisterial) that names IB officials, including former Special Director Rajinder Kumar.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old Mumbai college girl, was killed along with her friend Javed Shaikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

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