Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday dropped murder charges against all 12 accused in the killing of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya. The court has said that there is no evidence to press murder charges against the accused.
The court, however, said that they can be convicted for criminal conspiracy and attempt to murder.
The court also slammed the CBI for its 'washed up' and 'blinkered' investigations in the case.
A division bench of the high court comprising justices DH Vaghela and JC Upadhyay said the investigations by the central agency in the case were "washed up, blinkered and had left lot to desire."
Criticising the CBI, the court further said the investigating officer should be made accountable for such lapses which has caused injustice to the accused and wastage of public resources.
It said the investigation agency could not prove murder charges hence the conviction by the trial court, where the accused were convicted of murder with criminal conspiracy would not survive hence the order is set aside. Panchal said that following the court verdict, the sentence of the most of the accused except the prime accused Ashgar Ali is likely to be reduced.
The 12 accused were found guilty by a POTA court in 2007 and seven were sentenced to life imprisonment. All the 12 accused are to be freed immediately.
Pandya, former Minister of State for Home, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, near Law Garden area of the city when he had gone for a morning walk.
The CBI had stated in its charge sheet that the murder was carried out to avenge the 2002 riots.
(With additional information from PTI)