Ishrat Jahan case: MHA denies sanction to prosecute ex-IB official, 3 others

Ishrat Jahan case: MHA denies sanction to prosecute ex-IB official, 3 others
In what could put brakes on the probe in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in Gujarat, the Centre has denied sanction sought by CBI to prosecute ex- IB official Rajender Kumar and his three colleagues, all of who were charged with criminal conspiracy.

In relief for Kumar and others, the Union Home Ministry today said the sanction was denied after a detailed examination of facts, circumstances and records made available to it in respect of the 11-year-old case. The CBI had also charged Kumar with murder.
"After a detailed examination of facts, circumstances and records made available to the MHA in respect of the case, the sanction was denied," a MHA spokesperson said.

Official sources said the CBI solely depended on circumstantial evidences and that cannot be the ground for giving sanction in the case.

Kumar, a retired Special Director, and three other IB officials were allegedly involved in the conspiracy behind the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others. IB and CBI were at loggerheads during the probe in the case.

The lawyer representing Ishrat's mother said the Government decision would be challenged.

"My lawyer Vrinda Grover is not there. I will decide (the further course of action), once she returns. But ordinarily it is required to be challenged," advocate I H Syed, who appeared for Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar, told PTI in Ahmedabad.

According to Syed, as the MHA did not grant sanction to CBI, charges cannot be framed against the officials--Rajender Kumar, M K Sinha, T Mittal and Rajiv Wankhede
"As permission under section 197 of the CrPC (a mandatory and prior permission to prosecute any government servant in an offence) has not been granted, charges against the accused (IB officers) cannot be framed," he said.

The CBI had submitted its final report in the case to the Home Ministry, which is the cadre controlling ministry for IB personnel, two years ago.

After several rounds of exchange of communication between the CBI and the Home Ministry, a final decision was recently taken in this case, sources said.

Former IB Director Asif Ibrahim had opposed the move to prosecute his officers during his tenure which ended in December last year.

The CBI has been informed of the Home Ministry decision to deny sanction to prosecute Kumar and three others in the killing of Ishrat, a 19-year-old Mumbra college student, and three others in the encounter that took place on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004.

Kumar, an IPS officer of 1979 batch, who retired about two years ago, was posted as joint director of IB in Ahmedabad when the Ishrat encounter took place.

The former IB officer was questioned by CBI twice regarding his alleged role in the conspiracy to carry out the encounter.

Congress leader R P N Singh criticised the Home Ministry decision as unfortunate, saying it raises questions on giving justice to common people.

Another Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohail also slammed the decision.
In February last year, the CBI had filed the second charge sheet in the case naming Kumar for murder and conspiracy along with his other three team members in the encounter case.

Kumar was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping in order to murder, wrongful confinement and also under the Arms Act.

Three other IB officers, who were part of Kumar's team - Mittal, Sinha and Wankhede- were charged under all the offences except for murder.

The charge sheet was filed before a special CBI court in Ahmedabad.

CBI sources had maintained that they had evidence that Kumar was one of the officers who had interrogated Ishrat when she was allegedly taken into illegal custody by Gujarat Police before being killed in the encounter.

Kumar was reportedly questioned at length with regard to the alleged interrogation and other inputs which suggested his possible role in the conspiracy leading to the encounter.
The retired IPS officer was alleged to have generated intelligence input that a group of Lashkar terrorists were coming to Ahmedabad to target Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Almost all accused in the case got bail from court. IPS officers D G Vanzara and P P Pandey were granted bail in February. N K Amin, another accused, was reinstated by the Gujarat Home Department as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) in the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) at Gandhinagar early this month.

In the encounter, Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh along with two suspected Pakistanis-- Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- were gunned down by Gujarat crime branch officials.

The crime branch had then claimed that the four of them were Lashkar-E-Taiyaba (LeT) operatives who had reached Gujarat to kill Modi.

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