Accused in Ishrat Jahan murder case, Gujarat DGP forced to quit

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Gujarat government to accept the offer of Director General of Police P P Pandey, who is on extension till 30 April this year, to relinquish his office forthwith.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud recorded the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat, that the top police officer has himself written a letter expressing willingness to step down forthwith if the government so desired.

“In view of determination of the state government, we are of the view that the main petition has been rendered infructuous,” the bench said.

Pandey’s appointment and extension as DGP and IGP was challenged through a PIL.

The bench recorded that Pandey, in the letter, expressed willingness to step down and urged the state government to revoke the notification appointing him till 30 April.

The apex court had on 31 March, asked Gujarat government to file its response to a plea against promotion and three- month extension to Pandey, who is out on bail in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case while refusing to give it time till Friday to file the counter affidavit.

The ASG had sought time from the bench for taking instruction and told the court that Pandey had served the force for 30 years.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the petitioner – former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Francis Ribeiro – had said that Pandey was granted bail, reinstated, promoted and rewarded despite being an accused in a murder case.

The Centre’s Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had granted the three-month extension to Pandey, who was to retire on 31 January.

Pandey was heading the state crime branch when Ishrat, a 19-year-old girl based in Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an alleged encounter with the police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004. Gujarat police had claimed they had terror links and had plotted to kill the then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.

An SIT constituted by the high court to investigate the case had concluded that it was a fake encounter, following which the HC had transferred the case to CBI.

After being released on bail, Pandey was taken back into service in February 2015 and appointed the Director of the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau.

On 16 April last year, Pandey was appointed the in-charge DGP of Gujarat.