Gujarat HC declines to give copy of Ishrat Jahan charge sheet to IPS officer

New Delhi: The Gujarat High Court on Friday declined to give a copy of the first charge sheet filed in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case to IPS officer Satish Verma who was part of the team that had probed the 2004 episode.

CBI, which probed the high-profile case, had appealed against a recent order of a special court that asked the central agency to give a copy of the document to Verma. Justice B N Karia allowed CBI’s criminal revision application and quashed the special CBI court’s order. The trial Court committed an error in allowing the prayer made by Verma, Karia said.

Verma had sought a copy of the first charge sheet on the ground he was a member of the HC-appointed Special Investigation team (SIT) that had probed the Ishrat case and later assisted CBI in the investigation. He maintained even a private person had the right to seek the document. The HC has ordered not to give a copy of the charge sheet to my client Satish Verma, his lawyer Rahul Sharma said.

CBI had sought a stay on the special court’s order on the ground Verma did not have a locus standi to seek the copy and also because the charge sheet was filed three years ago while Verma sought it only three months ago. The central agency argued that only an accused or a victim can get the copy.

The lower court had recently rejected application of Verma to allow him to inspect the second charge sheet. The court said it was not in a position to provide the charge sheet as it had not taken cognisance of it yet. Verma had sought the supplementary charge sheet so he could initiate legal action against the accused named in it.

The first charge sheet was filed in July 2013 and it named seven police officers, including IPS officers P P Pandey, D G Vanzara and G L Singhal. In the document, CBI had termed the encounter as “fake” and a joint operation between Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

In the second charge sheet filed in February 2014, the CBI had named Special Director of IB Rajendra Kumar and booked him under IPC Sections related to murder, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, wrongful confinement and also Arms Act. Besides Kumar, three other IB officers – P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede – were also charged.

Both the charge sheets were filed in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H S Kuthwad. However, CBI has not obtained permission of the Union Law Ministry to prosecute the four IB officers. So, the court has not yet taken cognisance of the second charge sheet.

Ishrat (19), who hailed from Mumbai, and three others – Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar – were killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

Gujarat Police had then claimed the four had links with Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba and were on a mission to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.