Ishrat Jahan case: 4 accused move court for discharge

Ishrat Jahan case: 4 accused move court for discharge

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In Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the four remaining accused Gujarat policemen including Inspector General of Police G L Singhal, known for revealing illegal surveillance of a woman architect, on Friday moved applications before a special CBI court here seeking to be discharged from the trial.

The special court issued a notice to CBI and inquired if the notice can be issued to complainant Shamima Kauser, mother of Ishrat, and fixed the hearing for September 21.

Those who have moved the applications apart from Singhal are ex-Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Tarun Barot, also known as "encounter specialist," ex DySP J G Parmar and assistant sub-inspector Anaju Chaudhary.

Barot and Chaudhary are accused by the CBI of firing at Ishrat, her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pakistani nationals— Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.

The applications have been moved separately but have similar prayers on identical grounds including parity with ex-policemen D G Vanzara, N K Amin and ex-Director General of Police P P Pandey.

It has been stated in the plea that "It is also made expressly clear that the present application has been filed only on the ground of non-existence of  requisite sanction under section 197 of code of criminal procedure, 1973, without entering into the merits of the case and the accused crave leave to file a separate application for discharge on merits if such occasion arises in future."

Ex DGP Pandey was discharged on merits last year while Vanzara and Amin were dropped from criminal proceeding on the ground that CBI didn't have permission from the state government to prosecute them as required under section 197 of CrPC.

The state government had denied permission on the ground of "larger public interest" and that Ishrat Jahan was an operative of Pakistan-based terror organisation "Lashkar-e-Toiba."

All four accused have stated in their pleas that previous orders that exonerated Pandey, Vanzara and Amin have not been challenged that therefore those orders have attained finality.

As a matter of fact, CBI told the court in writing that it would not challenge those orders. In these orders, the court has held that prior sanction is required to prosecute government servants.

Singhal is known for giving CBI evidence in the form of two pen drivers containing 267 voice recordings which exposed illegal surveillance of a woman architect allegedly under the orders of then minister of state for home Amit Shah, now the Union home minister, at the behest of a "saheb."

The case was not probed after the woman's father approached high court saying he didn't want any inquiry.

Singhal was arrested on February 2, 2013, and was released on default bail after CBI didn't file chargesheet in the stipulated time of 90 days.

A year later, he was reinstated in the service with promotion as Deputy Inspector General by the Gujarat government with effect from May 16, 2014, the day the BJP won the Lok Sabha elections with a thumping majority.

Earlier this year, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector General of Police. The other co-accused Barot and Parmar have retired while Chaudhary is posted with State Reserve Police force.

The senior most accused in the case ex DGP Pandey was the first one to get discharged from the trial.

On the other hand, the case of four accused officers of intelligence bureau is yet to be committed to the sessions court and the charge sheet against them remains pending for want of sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs that controls the department.