On March 31, a special CBI court in Ahmedabad discharged three police officers who were accused in the alleged extrajudicial killing of four, including Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai in June 2004. IPS officer GL Singhal retired police officer Tarun Barot and Anaju Chaudhari, the last three accused in the case, had filed the discharge applications on March 20.
Ishrat Jahan encounter case: CBI court discharges last three accused police officials including Tarun Barot and GS Singhal— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2021
‘Nothing on record suggest Ishrat Jahan and four others were not terrorist’
While narrating the order, Special CBI judge VR Raval noted that prima facie, there is nothing on the record that may suggest that Ishrat Jahan and three others, who were killed in the encounter, were not terrorists.
The court said, “The order is passed with the application of mind and Government has also come to the conclusion that the offences committed by the present applicants are such which have been committed while discharging their official duties as police officers and also the investigation against the accused is not proper and there is no evidence against the accused.”
CBI did not appeal against the discharge of four officers earlier
As the proceedings against the three were dropped, and the trial came to its end, the proceedings can only be resumed if CBI decides to appeal against the discharge orders. However, going by the track record in the case, the chances of such appeal are dim. Notably, CBI had not appealed against the discharge of four other officers earlier, and those discharge orders were also cited as a ground for the discharge of the last three accused.
Ishrat Jahan Encounter Case
On June 15 2004, Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed near Kotarpur waterworks on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. They were believed to be Pakistani nationals. Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch led by Vanzara was involved in the encounter. DCB had claimed that the four were operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba and were on a mission to kill then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
In 2013, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a charge sheet in the case and named seven police officers P P Pandey, Vanzara, N K Amin, J G Parmar, Singhal, Barot, and Chaudhary as the accused. They were charged with abduction, murder and destruction of evidence. In 2018, Pandey, who was then- commissioner of police (crime), Ahmedabad City, was discharged from the case. In May 2019, the Special CBI court discharged Vanzara and Amin from the case. Parmar was abated from the case following his death in September 2020.
When Amin and Vanzara were discharged, the CBI court had relied on the fact that the Gujarat government did not give permission to prosecute them. CBI did not oppose or challenge the discharge orders. However, Shamima Kauser, mother of Ishrat, had opposed the orders at that time. Under section 197 of the CrPC, the government’s sanction is necessary for the prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of the official duty.
On March 20, the special public prosecutor of CBI submitted a sealed report in which the state government had refused to grant permission to prosecute the last three accused in the case. Taking the discharge of the other accused into consideration, the discharge orders were passed by the court on March 31 for Singhal, Chaudhari and Barot.