Ishrat Jahan case dropped against Vanzara, Amin

Celebrations outside D G Vanzara's residence in Gandhnagar. (DH Photo/Satish Jha)

In a blow to CBI investigation into Ishrat Jahan encounter case, a special CBI court on Thursday dropped the proceeding against ex DIG D G Vanzara and ex-Superintendent of Police Narendra K Amin on the ground that the agency couldn't get required sanction under section 197 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPc) to prosecute them. Under this section, a prosecuting agency is required to get sanction from the government for prosecuting government servant.

The special judge J K Pandya pronounced the judgment holding that in absence sanction for prosecution, both the former officers required to be discharged from the case. With this, both the officers ceased to be accused in any encounter case.

Vanzara and Amin had moved court in wake of denial of sanction to CBI under section 197 of CrPC by the Gujarat government to prosecute them in the case.  The CBI did not oppose their pleas and had left it to the court to decide in accordance with the law.

Despite maintaining since the beginning that  section 197 of CrPC is not required in this case, the CBI wrote to the Gujarat government and sought its opinion. It was done after the special court, while refusing to discharge Vanzara and Amin, had asked the CBI to clear its stand whether it wants to seek sanction or not.  

Following the denial of sanction by the state government, both filed applications in the court for dropping the case against them. Ishrat Jahan's mother Shamima Kauser joined the proceeding through her lawyer Vrinda Grover and opposed the pleas on the ground that there was no need for the CBI to seek sanction for prosecution.

Grover had argued that "The order of the government declining sanction is invalid, and hence non-est, as it is without merit, having been passed mechanically and without application of mind. It also amounts to an interference in the administration in the of justice and hence deserves to be rejected. The sanction Order is yet another attempt by the State Government to shield the accused and obstruct the answering Respondent’s right to justice.”

She also argued that no sanction is required for prosecution as the accused conspired to commit the alleged offences which “fall outside the scope of their official duty and do not even have a remote connection with the official duties of a police officer.”

Vanzara was accused of conspiring the abduction, murder among other charges, while Amin apart from being part of the conspiracy also participated in the killing. The CBI had accused Amin of firing 5 rounds from his 9 mm pistol on the victims. Both Vanzara and Amin were also co-accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi's killings. They were acquitted by a special Mumbai court last year.

The CBI had chargesheeted seven Gujarat police officers including Pandey, Vanzara, Amin, IPS officer G L Singhal among others and filed a supplementary chargesheet against four officers of Intelligence Bureau (IB). The CBI probe established that 19 years old Mumbai college girl Ishrat, her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pakistani nationals were abducted, kept in illegal confinement and then murdered in cold blood. The accused policemen branded them as "Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives" who were out to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi, now the prime minister.

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