DELHI: 11 Feb 2014

The Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI) feels dismayed at the Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI) which while filing a supplementary charge-sheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has let Amit Shah, a close aide of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, off the hook. Only former Intelligence Bureau, (IB), special director Rajinder Kumar has been accused of murder and three serving officers of criminal conspiracy in the case.

SDPI national president A. Sayeed in a statement said that letting Shah off the hook is a mockery of truth. It seems that the CBI did not charge higher officials/political figures because it feared reprisal. The question is that if Amit Shah, who was minister of state for home in Gujarat Government, did not have a hand in assassination, then why were the Gujarat Police calling him minutes before the assassination?

Sayeed pointed out that it is double Standards of BJP as it (BJP) is angry when CBI termed the encounter Fake and is happy when the name of Amit Shah is not mentioned in the charge-sheet. He said that several encounter deaths have gone through twists and turns during investigation that the truth will never be known about them. This case once again raises the need for time-bound investigations and transparency.

The charge-sheet says that former IB special director Rajendra Kumar is the main accused who generated a false intelligence alert that the four persons were terrorists on a mission to kill Modi. Not only that, he also provided arms to the accused a day before the encounter. Kumar, accused by CBI of murder in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, was allegedly the brain behind the affidavit filed by the home ministry declaring the Ishrat Jahan victim a terrorist.

Sayeed said Kumar has reportedly claimed that he along with his former colleagues, have been wrongly implicated in the case as they were following two Pakistani terrorists along with their Indian collaborators. Kumar’s contention makes it clear that the issue of sanction under the Criminal Procedure Code, (CrPC), to try them will be a matter of legal contention between them and the prosecuting agency. The CrPC provides protection to public servants from action taken by them in the course of discharging official duties. The CBI had asked for an opinion from the Union Law Ministry whether sanction was required in this case but the ministry is yet to give its final opinion. Therefore, the CBI has not approached the Union Home Ministry, which will be the sanctioning authority in this matter.

He said that the it remains to be seen if the Central Government gives green signal to prosecute Kumar and three serving officers or sits over to grant the required sanction. Now, if sanction is declined then the charge-sheet against Kumar and three other officers would become in fructuous and they would be trigger happy while the victims would be denied justice.

Sayeed wondered over CBI chief Ranjit Sinha’s reported emphasis that he wanted to be “fair” while conceding that there was pressure, but said there was no “confrontation” between him and the IB. Sinha reportedly said: “he could have gone up the IB ladder but did not want to open a can of worms”. What does all this mean? Will a decade of judicial process to book the culprits of the heinous crime end in a mockery of justice?

It may be recalled here that Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college student, was killed in a fake encounter along with Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali and Zeeshan Johar on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004 by a team of the Gujarat Police’s Crime Branch.