New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday convicted 12 accused in the March 2003 murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, setting aside their acquittal. All have been sentenced to life term.
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.
On Friday, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra allowed the appeal by the CBI and Gujarat government, and held that the High Court order suffered from several infirmities. Gujarat High Court had in August 2011 acquitted the accused and reproached the CBI for a “botched-up”probe.
The High Court had then said: "What clearly stands out from the record of the present case is that the investigation in the case of murder of Haren Pandya has all through been botched up and blinkered and has left a lot to be desired."
It had overturned the 2007 judgment by a designated court hearing cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which had convicted the 12 accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment
The Supreme Court has also dismissed a PIL by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking a fresh, court-monitored probe in the case citing “new pieces of information that have come to light…” The apex court imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the NGO as well.