Ishrat Jahan case: Supreme Court upholds special probe (Lead)

November 12th, 2010 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) In a setback to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court Friday rejected its petition challenging the setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) by the state high court to investigate the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in an alleged fake shoot-out.

Rejecting the Gujarat government’s plea, an apex court bench of Justice B.Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar described the case as “exceptional” and said “on facts, we will not interfere”.

The Gujarat High Court, by its Sep 24, 2010 order, constituted a SIT to investigate the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others June 15, 2004.

Other three who were gunned down were Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Jishan Johar alias Abdul Gani and Amjad Ali alias Salim. While the later two were said to be from Pakistan, Gujarat Police claimed all four were Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives.

Appearing for the state government, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi asked how the high court could appoint a SIT to investigate shoot-out cases. Holding it was not correct for the high court to appoint an SIT to investigate individual cases, he wondered in what way the SIT constituted by the high court was better than the one constituted by it Aug 13, 2009, which was later dissolved.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, also appearing for the Gujarat government, said that a public suit by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties on shoot-out killings by Mumbai Police was pending before the court.

The suit seeks to lay down the guidelines on investigations into shoot-out killings. The apex court has already issued notice to the central and the state governments on the lawsuit.

The Gujarat government contended that the high court erred in dissolving the investigating team that was constituted by it Aug 13, 2009. The state government said that there was no allegation of bias or prejudice against the dissolved team.

By its Aug 12, 2010 order, the high court transferred investigation into Ishrat Jahan case to the apex court-appointed SIT, headed by former CBI director R.K.Raghvan, which is probing the Godhra and post Godhra riot cases.

Ishrat Jahan’s mother Shamima Kausar moved the high court Sep 9 seeking a review of the Aug 12. It was on this plea that the court Sep 24 passed an order constituting a new SIT.

A judicial probe by Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate S.P.Tamang last year had said the killing of Ishrat Jahan and the three others was “cold-blooded murder”.

Amongst others, Tamang had named Gujarat Police’s “encounter specialist” and the then head of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), D.G. Vanzara, as an accused.

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