Guj HC lets off MoS Home in contempt case
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Last Updated: Friday, February 10, 2012, 22:24
Ahmedabad: Gujarat High Court on Friday let off Minister of State for Home Praful Patel, facing contempt charges in connection with Ishrat Jahan encounter case, with a word of caution, after he tendered unconditional apology.

A division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari, which had called for initiating contempt of court proceedings, also sought an undertaking from the minister within two weeks, that there would not be any delay in complying with its orders in the future.

In April last year the court had issued a notice to the Home Department, after it failed to comply with its order passed two months prior to it, for transferring three police officers, who are suspects in the fake encounter case of 2004.

Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Balwant Singh had then filed an affidavit, seeking apology on behalf of the state government.

Dissatisfied with Singh's reply, the court called for records of the file movement, pursuant to its orders for transferring three police officers. It was found that the file was lying with the MoS (Home) for nearly two months.

The court sought an explanation from the minister, following which, he had filed a reply, stating that the delay in transferring the officers was because he was occupied with state Assembly's budget session.

On February 1 this year, the minister filed another affidavit, tendering unconditional apology with assurance that there would not be any delay in compliance with court's order in the future.

Coming down heavily on the minister, the court asked the Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, who appeared on behalf of the state government, if the entire administration stops functioning during the assembly session.

"It is unbelievable that the minister was not aware of the High Court's the files not move during the assembly session?," the court asked.

It further said that political agenda should not play a role in implementing the HC order.

Court observed that there was definitely a breach, be it intentional or unintentional. "It is not that the state played role without partiality," it further observed.

The delay in transfer of three officers -- ADGP PP Pande, SP GL Singhal and ACP Tarun Barot -- had caused damage to the probe that was being carried out by the HC appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), the court said, adding that it had, in its judgement ordering CBI probe into the Ishrat fake encounter case, had mentioned about attempts being made to derail the probe.

On December 1 last year, the HC had directed the CBI to take over further probe in the case after the SIT, constituted by it, had concluded that encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others --Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Gopinath Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Jeeshan Johar-- on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004, was fake and was staged by Gujarat Police.

After the encounter in June 2004, Ahmedabad city crime branch had claimed the four were LeT members and were on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

A judicial inquiry by metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang in September 2009 in the case had also claimed that the encounter was fake and executed in cold blood by police officials for their benefit.


First Published: Friday, February 10, 2012, 22:24

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