PIL For Fresh Probe Into Murder Of Haren Pandya Posted Before Bench Headed By Justice Arun Mishra
The Supreme Court on Friday required a petition by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for a fresh, court-monitored investigation into the murder of Haren Pandya, BJP leader and Home Minister in the Gujarat Cabinet, to be placed before the same bench which is hearing the criminal appeal in the matter.
The bench of Justices A. K. Sikri and Abdul Nazeer was of the view that the new PIL should be heard by a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which is considering the appeal against the 2011 judgment of the Gujarat High Court acquitting the 12 persons convicted for Pandya's murder by the trial court.
Appearing for CPIL, Advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that the investigation was necessary in view of some startling information that has recently come to light and has been extensively reported by the media, which was never investigated by the CBI
It was submitted that Azam Khan, a witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, has made a revelation during the trial that Sheikh had told him that Pandya was murdered as part of a contract killing ordered by DG Vanzara. He has also allegedly made a statement that it was Sheikh's associate, Tulsiram Prajapati, who, along with two others, had murdered Pandya.
Further, as per a conversation recorded in the book "Gujarat Files" written by journalist Rana Ayyub, YA Shaik, a CBI officer who handled the Haren Pandya case, revealed to Ayyub that the CBI had not done any investigation of its own and merely repeated what was told to them by the Gujarat Police. He also reportedly divulged that Pandya's murder was a political conspiracy in which several politicians as well as IPS officers including DG Vanzara were involved.
Besides, there is a reference to a Times of India report of 2013, stating that Vanzara had told the team investigating encounter killings in Gujarat that Pandya was murdered as part of a political conspiracy.
The petition asserts that the sketch of the assassin drawn by the police soon after the death of Pandya matched with Prajapati's identity, and seeks production of the same before the Court. It also seeks a direction to produce the statement made by D G Vanzara to the CBI in 2010.
It was on the morning of March 26, 2003 that Pandya was shot dead in his car as he was returning from his morning walk. The case was investigated by a CBI team under Y. C. Modi, who is the present Chief of NIA, avers the petition.
The trial court had convicted 12 persons for the murder in June 2007. However, the High Court acquitted all of them in 2011, noting that the investigation was "botched" and "misdirected". "The investigating officers concerned ought to be held accountable for their ineptitude resulting into injustice, harassment of many persons concerned and enormous waste of public resources and public time of the Courts", the HC had observed in the judgment.