The Gujarat government has refused to give permission to CBI to prosecute ex IPS DG Vanzara and ex-Superintendent of Police Narendra Kumar Amin accused in 2004 Ishrat Jahan Encounter case. The state government dispatched a letter in this regard to central probe agency's Mumbai office last week informing about its decision that "sanction cannot be granted as the officers were only discharging their duty."
This is the latest development in encounter killing of 19 years old Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals- Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar. The CBI probe established that they were already in the custody of Gujarat police and Intelligence Bureau before they were murdered on cold blood on June 14, 2004, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. They were branded as Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives out to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi and other right-wing leaders.
On Monday, the CBI informed the special court that it received information from the state home department that a letter was dispatched to Mumbai office through the registered post last week. They told the special judge J K Pandya that they are yet to receive the letter.
When this paper contacted in the home department, a source in the know of the development said, "We have not given sanction. I don't know the grounds on which the state has arrived to the conclusion but sanction has been denied. The state has been firm that it was not a fake encounter." He confirmed it in the condition of anonymity.
When contacted, chief secretary J N Singh also confirmed that a letter has been sent, however, he said: "I don't know what's there in the letter."
Sources said that this letter is the opinion of the state government that it can't grant permission to CBI to prosecute Vanzara and Amin. The CBI sought permission following the special court's order. The court, while rejecting the discharge pleas of Vanzara and Amin had directed the CBI to seek sanction.
Apart from Vanzara and Amin, IPS officer GL Singhal, retired Deputy Superintendent of police Tarun Barot among others are key accused in the case. The senior most accused IPS P P Pandey was discharged by the court.
The state's response comes months after CBI's request for sanction for prosecuting the accused policemen under section 197 of the code of criminal procedure. Under this section, the prosecuting agency has to seek sanction from the government in case it wants to prosecute any government officials. Several accused policemen raised this issue on the ground that CBI sought such sanction from the central government in case of four accused officers from the Intelligence Bureau but it didn't follow the same procedure when it came to accused officers of Gujarat police.
On the other hand, CBI has maintained in the court that there is no need for sanction to proceed against the accused policemen. With the state government refusing the sanction, the fate of this case now lies in the hands of the court.