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Ishrat case: Court rejects discharge pleas of Vanzara, Amin

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Ahmedabad, Aug 7:  A special CBI court here today rejected the discharge applications of former Gujarat Police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

While rejecting their discharge applications, special judge J K Pandya directed the CBI to clarify whether the Gujarat government had given sanction for prosecution of the two accused, as required under CrPC section 197.

Under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the permission of government is required to prosecute a government servant.

The court said it wants the prosecution sanction status of the two to be brought on record, and kept the matter for hearing on September 7.

Vanzara, a former deputy inspector general of police in Gujarat, had sought discharge on the ground of parity with the state’s former in-charge Director General of Police P P Pandey, who was discharged in the case in February for want of evidence against him.

Amin, who retired as the superintendent of police, sought his discharge on the ground that the encounter was genuine and that testimonies of witnesses produced by the CBI were not reliable.

The CBI has not initiated the procedure for seeking sanction to prosecute seven officers, including Vanzara and Amin, named as accused in the charge sheet.

The probing agency had earlier sought the Union government’s sanction to prosecute four Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials, whose names figured in the case’s supplementary charge sheet, which was rejected by the Centre.

Reacting to the high court’s order today, Vanzara’s lawyer V D Gajjar said, “We are happy that the court has directed the CBI to give a report on the status of government’s sanction to prosecute Vanzara.”

“Earlier, the court had discharged former in-charge DGP P P Pandey (also an accused in the case) on the ground that the CBI had not sought the government’s sanction to prosecute him. The same rule applies to us as well,” he said.

Amin, who appeared in-person, said, “We are officers who should never have been prosecuted without sanction (under CrPC section 197). There is discrimination between the IB officers and the Gujarat Police officers.”

If the sanction is not given, then the prosecution proceedings will drop, he said, adding, “we will follow the due course of law.”

The central government had in 2015 turned down the CBI’s request to grant sanction for prosecution of four IB officials who were allegedly involved in the conspiracy behind the alleged fake encounters.

The CBI had named them in the supplementary charge sheet.

The special CBI court had concluded last month the hearing of arguments of the Vanzara and Amin in their discharge pleas, as well as that of the CBI and Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser.

Kauser had sought to oppose the pleas of Amin and Vanzara, and told the court that her daughter was “murdered following a conspiracy between high-ranking police officers and others holding powerful and influential positions”.

She alleged that Vanzara played a “direct and key role” in the conspiracy behind the “staged encounter”.

Ishrat, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra area of Thane district near Mumbai, and three others – Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar – were killed by the police in an “encounter” on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

At that time, the police had claimed that the four had terror links and plotted to kill the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

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