A special CBI court on Friday rejected the discharge applications moved by three policemen, including IPS officer G.L. Singhal, accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat.
Besides Mr. Singhal, other petitioners are retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Tarun Barot and Sub Inspector Ananu Chaudhary.
A fourth accused, retired Deputy SP J.G. Parmar, who had also moved a discharge plea, passed away recently.
In an order on Friday, Special CBI court judge V.R. Raval refused to drop proceedings against the three accused and directed the prosecution agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, to get prosecution sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from the Gujarat government.
As per the laid down procedure under the section, government sanction is necessary for the prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of official duty.
The court in its ruling admitted that the the policemen were discharging official duty and noted the probe agency CBI has not initiated “any process for getting sanction” from the State authorities as required under the law.
“The accused are involved in a serious case as there is an encounter by the accused police officers. Therefore, when it was established the accused acted while performing their official duties, the CBI ought to have got sanction. CBI should be directed to go for sanction for prosecution or to make declaration in this regard,” the court noted in its order.
In their pleas moved before the special court, the accused police officers sought discharge from the trial contending that the investigating agency had not obtained the mandatory sanction from the government, and on grounds of parity as other accused were granted discharge last year after the State government refused to sanction prosecution, they too must be discharged from facing the trial.
Last year, the same CBI court had dropped proceedings against former police officers D.G. Vanzara and N.K. Amin in the fake encounter case after the Gujarat government refused to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute them.
Both Mr. Vanzara and Mr. Amin were among the top accused in the sensational alleged fake encounter case in which Mumbra girl Ishrat Jahan and three others were allegedly killed by the cops dubbing them as terrorists.
Earlier in 2018, the CBI court had also discharged former Gujarat in charge DGP P.P. Pandey in the case. He too was a key accused and was arrested by the agency in the case.