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Bail blow to IPS officer in Ishrat case

New Delhi, June 11: The Supreme Court today dismissed the anticipatory bail petition of Puthvipal P. Pandey, a senior Gujarat IPS officer allegedly involved in the June 2004 fake encounter killing of teenager Ishrat Jahan.

A bench of Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Madan B. Lokur however, granted him liberty to approach Gujarat High Court with his plea for anticipatory bail and quashing of the second FIR lodged by the CBI in the case.

The apex court passed the order after senior counsel Shekhar Naphade submitted that the officer was falsely implicated by the CBI and the directions passed by the high court in the case were “patently illegal”.

He told the court the high court had set up a SIT and kept reconstituting it several times by seeking the opinion of counsels representing various parties to the disputes.

In addition, the high court had recorded a finding that there was no material on record to find fault with the functioning of the SIT constituted by it.

“When there is no material to find fault with the SIT, then how did the high court ask the CBI to step in? Such an order is patently illegal and not known to the law of this land,” the senior counsel remarked.

He argued it was illegal for the CBI to register an FIR in the same case and seek the arrest of Pandey as, according to him, the Supreme Court had in 2001 and 2010 ruled that there can be no two FIRs in the same set of cases.

But the apex court was not impressed with the argument as, according to it, the officer should have ideally first approached the high court with his plea. Instead, he has directly approached the apex court.

The case also witnessed an exchange of words between Naphade and additional solicitor-general Indira Jaising with the latter opposing the initial adjournment plea made by the IPS officer’s counsel.

Jaising told the court the adjournment plea was part of delaying tactics by the accused officer and moreover, she was not available from tomorrow as she was going abroad. Naphade took exception to the argument and said she was unnecessarily using her “lung power”.

Justice Misra then remarked: “You can also use your lung power.”

Jaising then told the counsel: “Who is asking you to keep your power in the lungs? You can also use it.”

Naphade retorted: “I can also use it but what we need is rationale thinking in the court and not get emotional.”

The Ahmedabad sessions court had issued the arrest warrant against Pandey on May 24 on the basis of investigation by the CBI which claimed that the officer was involved in the fake encounter killing.

Besides Ishrat, others killed in the fake encounter were Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar. The Gujarat cops claimed the trio had come to the city in a blue Indica from Mumbai to specifically kill chief minister Narendra Modi.

In his petition filed through counsel Rahul Gupta, Pandey, now the additional DGP, administration, had said that at the time of the incident he was not present at the encounter site and was in no way connected to the killings.

Pandey, who was joint commissioner of city police at the time of the fake encounter, claimed he had no role in the case except for passing information to the department about the movement of some fidayeen into the city.