A special CBI court on Friday rejected the discharge applications moved by three policemen, including IPS officer GL Singhal, who are accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case. The other two who moved the pleas are retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Tarun Barot and Sub Inspector Ananu Chaudhary.
A fourth accused, retired Deputy SP JG Parmar, who had also moved a discharge plea died recently. Special CBI court judge VR Raval on Friday refused to drop proceedings against the three and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to get prosecution sanction under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from the Gujarat government.
Under section 197 of the CrPC, government sanction is necessary for the prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of official duty. The court, while admitting the policemen were discharging official duty, noted the CBI has not initiated "any process for getting sanction".
"The accused are involved in a serious case as there is an encounter by the accused police officers. Therefore, when it was established the accused acted while performing their official duties, the CBI ought to have got sanction. CBI should be directed to go for sanction for prosecution or to make declaration in this regard," the court noted in its order. The accused sought discharge from the trial saying the investigating agency had not obtained the mandatory sanction from the government, and on grounds of parity as other accused were granted discharge last year after the state government refused to give sanction.
Last year, the same CBI court had dropped proceedings against former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the fake encounter case after the Gujarat government refused to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute them. In 2018, the court had discharged former Gujarat in charge DGP P P Pandey in the case.
Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed by Gujarat police in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The police claimed the four were terrorists planning to kill then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
However, an HC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) held that the encounter was fake, after which CBI registered a case against several police officials.