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Clash looms in Ishrat case

New Delhi, Aug. 4: The home ministry today asked the CBI for “all relevant documents” on former Intelligence Bureau special director Rajinder Kumar, who has been charged with murder and conspiracy in the Ishrat Jahan case, as another confrontation loomed over the investigative agency’s alleged “high-handedness”.

College girl Ishrat and three others were gunned down by Gujarat police in June 2004, allegedly on a tip-off from Kumar that they were plotting to murder then chief minister Narendra Modi.

In its chargesheet, the CBI had alleged that the “staged” encounter was a joint operation between Gujarat police and the IB, which reports to the Union home ministry.

In February, the CBI had charged Kumar with murder and three serving IB officers — P. Mittal, M.K. Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede — with conspiracy but cleared Modi’s close aide Amit Shah, then home minister of Gujarat.

Ministry sources said senior IB officers recently wrote to minister Rajnath Singh protesting the CBI’s “high-handedness” in chargesheeting Kumar and the others without getting the mandatory sanction.

Last year, too, Kumar’s questioning had led to a tussle between the CBI and the IB. “This is a very sensitive issue and we have asked the CBI to furnish all the relevant documents. We need to go through them first before deciding the future course of action,” a ministry official said.

The ministry and the CBI have been at loggerheads over the issue. The ministry had said the agency didn’t take permission from it, the IB’s administrative ministry.

A CBI official said the agency was accountable only to Gujarat High Court, which is monitoring the probe. “We had clinching evidence to nail Kumar and the other IB officers in the fake encounter case and that’s why we chargesheeted them. If the ministry wants to deny us sanction for prosecution, it is free to do so. The matter is now in the court.”

Recently, however, the CBI had written to the ministry seeking sanction to prosecute Kumar and the three officers and also provided the case diary and other files. But today’s call for “all the relevant documents” could set the stage for another clash between the ministry and the CBI.

The agency is under the administrative control of the department of personnel and training, which is under the Prime Minister.