PIL In SC Seeks Fresh Investigation Of Murder Of Haren Pandya [Read Petition]
Almost sixteen years after the murder of Haren Pandya, who was a BJP leader and Home Minister in Gujarat cabinet, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court by Centre for Public Interest Litigation(CPIL), seeking court-monitored fresh investigation of the case
The petition states that need for fresh investigation of the case has arisen in the light of the recent revelations made by Azam Khan, a witness in the Sohrabuddin case. As per the petition, on November 3, Azam Khan had given a statement during the trial of Sohrabuddin case that Sohrabuddin Sheikh had told him that Haren Pandya was murdered as a part of a contract killing for which the contract was given by DG Vanzara. The petition further states that he had also revealed that Sohrabuddin's associate Tulsiram Prajapati along with two others had murdered Haren Pandya as part of that contract.
It was on the morning of March 26, 2003 that Haren Pandya got shot-dead in his car as he was returning from morning walk. The case was investigated by CBI team under Y C Modi, who is the present Chief of NIA, as stated in the petition.
The petition makes mention of a conversation recorded in the book "Gujarat Files" written by journalist Rana Ayyub. As per the conversation, 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 revealed that Haren Pandya's murder was a political conspiracy and that several politicians as well as IPS officers including DG Vanzara were involved in the conspiracy.
"The need for the petition arises due to some startling information that has come recently to light, and has been extensively reported by the media regarding Mr.Haren Pandya's murder, information which was never investigated into by the agency, the CBI", the petition states.
It also refers to a Time of India report of 2013, stating that Vanzara had told the team investigating encounter killings in Gujarat that Pandya was murdered as part of political conspiracy.
The trial court had convicted 12 persons for the murder of Pandya 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.
The petition further states that the new developments along with earlier revelations "only confirm the apprehensions raised by the High Court of Gujarat".
The appeal against the High Court's acquittal is at present pending in Supreme Court. "However, the record of that case will not reflect the disturbing developments that have come to light recently", says the petition filed through the secretary of the NGO, Advocate Kamini Jaiswal.
The petition asserts that the sketch of the assassin drawn by the police soon after the death of Pandya matched with the identity of Thulsiram Prajapati, and seeks production of the same before Court. It also seeks a direction to produce the statement made by D G Vanzara to CBI in 2010.
In 2006, Vithalbhai Pandya, father of Haren Pandya, had filed an application in the trial court seeking further investigation in to the "political conspiracy" behind the case. He stated that CBI had dropped Jagruti Pandya, wife of Haren Pandya, as a witness in the case, showing the "blinkered approach adopted by the investigators". However, the application was rejected by the trial court.
(image sourced from here)