Monday, October 1, 2012

SC junks Gujarat plea, says CBI can keep top cop in Ishrat case

In a setback to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed its plea against induction of IPS officer Satish Verma into the CBI team probing the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
Ishrat and three others -- Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- were killed in an encounter by officials of the Gujarat Police Crime Branch near Kotarpur on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The Gujarat Police had claimed they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders.
Refusing to interfere with the Gujarat High Court order allowing Verma's attachment with the CBI in the Ishrat case probe for four months, a Bench of Justices S S Nijjar and H L Gokhale said: “Why should we be interested in any officer probing a case? It is for the CBI to decide who do they want... Why should the state be interested? We do not see a reason to interfere with the High Court's order.”
After the CBI wanted Verma's help in the probe, a Gujarat High Court Bench on July 13 asked the government to spare services of Verma for four months. This request was communicated to the government too.
Incidentally, Verma was also the member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that conducted the preliminary inquiry into the alleged encounter. He played a crucial role in concluding that the encounter was staged. The probe was handed over to CBI in December 2011.
Challenging the High Court's order on Verma's inclusion in the CBI team, the Gujarat government contended in the Supreme Court that the CBI investigation with a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer was “impermissible”. “It is noteworthy that Verma, as a member of the SIT, made the SIT non-functional as he kept filing affidavits after affidavits,” argued the state government counsel. The Bench, however, found no merit in his contentions.