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Supreme Court Affirms Conviction in 2003 Haren Pandya Murder Case

The CBI maintained that Pandya, a minister in the Narendra Modi government, was murdered pursuant to a conspiracy to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state by targeting right-wing leaders.

Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has affirmed conviction of 10 men in the March 2003 murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran has dismissed the review petitions filed by 10 of 12 convicts in the case.

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“We have perused the Review Petitions and record of the appeals and are convinced that the order, of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration. The Review Petitions are, accordingly, dismissed," held the bench.

In July, the top court had sentenced nine out of 12 convicts to life imprisonment after setting aside their acquittal by the Gujarat High Court. Others were sentenced to varying jail terms as was awarded by a POTA Court in 2007.

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Pandya, who was a minister in the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, in Ahmedabad while he was out on a morning walk. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) maintained that Pandya was murdered pursuant to a conspiracy to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state by targeting right-wing leaders.

Gujarat High Court had in August 2011 acquitted the accused and reproached the CBI for a “botched-up” probe.

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But the Supreme Court set aside the High Court judgment, noting it suffered from severe infirmities and did not suitably appreciate evidence adduced by the CBI. It said that the Gujarat High Court’s acquitting the nine people accused of the murder charge was “wholly uncalled for” and was based on a “wrong approach”.

While restoring the conviction of 12 accused, the apex court had also dismissed a PIL filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) seeking a court-monitored fresh probe into the murder case. It also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on CPIL for filing the PIL observing that it was not a “bona fide” petition.

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