A special CBI court in Ahmedabad on Thursday, May 2, discharged former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin from the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case.
The court allowed the discharge applications of Vanzara and Amin, which they had filed after the Gujarat government refused to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute them.
Special CBI court judge J K Pandya said that since the government did not sanction their prosecution, their discharge applications were allowed and proceedings against them would be dropped in the case.
Under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the government's sanction is necessary for the prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of the official duty.
Ishrat, a 19-year-old from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed by the Gujarat Police in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The police claimed they were terrorists and planning to kill the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
While the CBI had refused to take any stand on the state government's decision to decline sanction to prosecute the two former police officers, mother of Ishrat Jahan, Shamima Kauser, had opposed their applications.
In a submission made through her lawyer Vrinda Grover, Kauser had earlier said that their pleas seeking dropping of proceedings were "untenable in law and unsustainable on facts" and that the state government was "not the appropriate authority" to refuse sanction to prosecute the two officers.
"It is a matter of record that it is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and not the state of Gujarat, which is the appropriate sanctioning authority in the present case, she had said.
Vanzara's lawyer V D Gajjar had defended the pleas seeking dropping of proceedings, saying the court cannot determine the validity of the sanction order and any review was not possible.
He had said that judicial findings in the case had established that there was no "fake encounter" on the part of the police officers.
Gajjar had said the sanction for prosecution was declined after the state government went through the material on record, examined fully the facts and circumstances of the case.
On August 7, 2018, the court had rejected the discharge applications of Vanzara and Amin, and also sought to know from the CBI whether the agency had requested the government for a sanction to prosecute them, so that the court could frame charges against them and start the trial.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat High Court had later concluded that the encounter was fake, after which the HC had transferred the case to the CBI.
In the first charge-sheet filed by the investigative agency in 2013, seven Gujarat police officers, including IPS officers P P Pandey, Vanzara and G L Singhal, were named as accused. The court had later discharged Pandey