New Delhi: The Supreme Court has admitted the appeals filed by the CBI and Gujarat government challenging the acquittal by the High Court of 12 convicts in the murder of former Home Minister Haren Pandya.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and J Chalameshwar admitted the appeal filed by the investigating agency and the state police questioning the August 29, 2010, acquittal by the High Court as being erroneous.
The High Court had while acquitting the 12 convicts upheld the trial court's decision to convict them for criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Pandya, a former minister of state for home in the BJP government and once close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, in Ahmedabad when he was out for a morning walk. According to CBI, Pandya was murdered to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state.
The High Court, while criticising the CBI for botched-up investigations, had 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."
The accused were earlier convicted for a larger conspiracy by the Special POTA court on the basis of the deposition of main accused Asghar Ali who admitted to their plan to attack prominent VHP and other Hindu leaders of Gujarat to avenge the 2002 riots, mainly targeting Muslims.
Nine of the 12 convicts were awarded life imprisonment by the POTA court but the high court had acquitted them.
With additional information from PTI