A writ petition seeking fresh investigation into the Haren Pandya case had used controversial journalist Rana Ayyub’s book in support of their case, which the Supreme Court today said that is of no utility. The Supreme Court of India today overturned a Gujarat High Court order which had acquitted the 12 people convicted of murdering former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in 2003. The apex court restored the judgement of the trial court, which had convicted and sentenced Md Asgar Ali and 11 others.
CBI had appealed against the Gujarat High Court order in the Supreme Court, and a bench of Justice Arun Mishra accepted the appeal. Along with the appeal, the apex court also heads a writ petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation in association with the case. The legal NGO had sought fresh investigation into the murder of Haren Pandya, on the basis that High Court had acquitted the accused persons, and thereby raising doubt on the correctness of investigation which had led to the trial court verdict.
Along with overturning the high court order, the Supreme Court also rejected this writ petition seeking fresh investigation into the case. The judgement of the apex court notes that the petitioners had submitted the book ‘Gujarat Files – Anatomy of a coverup’ written by journalist Rana Ayyub in support of its case. Based upon this book and some other articles published in various newspapers advocates Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan had argued that it is a fit case for further investigation.
But the Supreme Court found no merit in the evidence submitted by the petitioners. The bench said, “The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value”. Implying that the arguments made by Rana Ayyub in her book are her opinions, the court said that “The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence.”
Most importantly, the judgement says that there is a likelihood of it being politically motivated, which cannot be ruled out. “The way in which the things have moved in Gujarat post-Godhra incident, such allegations and counter-allegations are not uncommon and had been raised a number of times and have been found to be untenable and afterthought”, the court notes.
Giving the verdict that Rana Ayyub’s book does not have evidentiary value, the court said that no case is made out on the basis of the material placed by petitioners including the Book by Rana Ayyub.
Dismissing the writ petition, the Supreme Court also imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on the petitioners.
1/2 Rana Ayyub’s a courageous reporter but her story wasn’t published in Tehelka coz it didn’t meet ed standards not ‘political pressure’
— Shoma Chaudhury (@ShomaChaudhury) May 29, 2016
It may be noted that this is not the first time Rana Ayyub’s book on Gujarat was criticised for not being based on facts. Even the anti-BJP propaganda site Tehelka had refused to publish the same story by the journalist. Dismissing allegations that Rana’s story was not published due to political pressure, editor Choudhury had said that it was not published as it did not meet editorial standards of the publication.