The Gujarat government has declined sanction to prosecute retired police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others, the Central Bureau of Investigation told a special CBI court on Tuesday.
The government's decision may pave the way for the controversial case against Vanzara and Amin to be dropped.
After going through a letter submitted to the court by CBI lawyer R C Kodekar, Judge J K Pandya said the sanction to prosecute the two former officers, who were accused in the case, under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), was declined by the state government.
The defence lawyers then sought permission to file an application to drop the proceedings against Vanzara and Amin.
The court granted the request and asked them to file an application on March 26.
It will now be up to the CBI to decide whether to proceed with the case against the two without the government sanction.
As per CrPC Section 197, prior sanction is required from a competent authority to prosecute a public servant.
The court had earlier rejected the discharge pleas of Vanzara,former deputy inspector general of police in Gujarat, and Amin, who retired as superintendent of police, and asked the CBI to clear its stand on whether it wants to get sanction from the state government to prosecute them.
Accordingly, the CBI wrote to the state government requesting the same.
Vanzara and Amin are two of the seven accused charge- sheeted by the CBI in the case.
Vanzara had sought discharge in the case 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 last year for want of evidence.
Amin's application seeking discharge was based on the ground that the encounter was genuine and that testimonies of witnesses produced by the CBI were not reliable.
Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an alleged encounter with police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
Gujarat Police claimed the four had links with terrorist organisations, and wanted to kill then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
A special investigation team set up by the Gujarat High Court concluded that it was a fake encounter, following which the HC transferred the case to the CBI.
In the first charge sheet filed in 2013, the CBI named seven Gujarat police officers, including P P Pandey, Vanzara and G L Singhal for kidnapping, murder and conspiracy.
Vanzara was last year discharged in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter cases.