Today, the Supreme Court restored the conviction and sentenced the 12 people accused of murdering former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in 2003. The verdict was delivered in a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on the appeals filed by the CBI challenging the acquittal of the accused by Gujarat High Court in 2011.
The bench also dismissed a fresh PIL filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) and imposed costs of Rs 50,000. The NGO claimed that there was fresh evidence in the murder case against senior Gujarat police officers and politicians.
Pandya was shot dead on 26 March 2003 in Ahmedabad near Law Garden when he had gone for a morning walk. The CBI claimed that this was done to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state.
In June 2007, a special POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activities) court had convicted the 12 accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment. However, the Gujarat High Court acquited all of them in 2011 stating that the investigation was “botched” and “misdirected”.
Then CBI had in 2011 itself filed an appeal questioning the acquittal of the Gujarat High Court as erroneous. On January 31 this year, the Supreme Court had reserved the verdict on the appeals.
Prior to Pandya’s killing the 12 accused were also earlier convicted in another case by a special POTA court for attempting to murder prominent VHP and Hindu to avenge the 2002 riots. An attempt was made on the life of a local VHP leader Jagdish Tewari on March 11, 2003.
CBI claimed that the two incidents were part of a single conspiracy to spread terror in the state. The accused were arrested on the basis of deposition of main accused Asghar Ali. The other accused are Mohammad Rauf, Mohammad Parvez Abdul Kayum Sheikh, Parvez Khan Pathan alias Athar Parvez, Mohammad Farooq alias Haji Farooq, Shahnawaz Gandhi, Kalim Ahmeda alias Kalimullah, Rehan Puthawala, Mohammad Riaz Sareswala, Aniz Machiswala, Mohammad Yunus Sareswala and Mohammad Saifuddin.
The agency had also claimed that these men were illegally sent to Pakistan and were trained by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.
The attempt of several people to accuse Narendra Modi to have murdered Haren Pandya has been exposed now and vindicated by the Supreme Court. Ever since his death, the biased sections of the media and self-styled secularists have implied that the Narendra Modi Government got him killed.
Haren Pandya who was a former minister in the Gujarat Government of the BJP resigned from the Cabinet in August 2002. He was subsequently murdered on 26 March 2003.