IPS Satish Verma can stay with CBI for now: Gujarat HC in Isharat case



Ahmedabad: Gujarat High Court on Monday allowed CBI to avail the services of state IPS officer Satish Verma in the investigation of the Isharat Jahan encounter case till May 10 and also directed the agency to submit its status report on probe by then.

A division bench of justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari, after going through the application seeking extension of assistance of Verma till June 30, allowed CBI to continue to avail of his services till May 10.

The bench said it would decide whether to let the agency take his service till June 30 after studying the status report of the investigation.

As Verma's continuation with CBI in this case was opposed by the state government, CBI counsel Yogesh Ravani at one point argued that, "instead of helping the investigation to reach its logical end, the government is taking a stand as if it is defending the accused of this case."

Government pleader Prakash Jani, while opposing the demand, claimed that, "It is the most unfortunate thing that an apex investigating agency like CBI is not able to investigate this case without the help of a Gujarat police officer."

However, the court rejected the contentions put forward by the state government and opined that, "after going through the application, it looks like investigation is at a crucial stage and Verma, with his experience of being part of earlier investigation carried by SIT formed by this court, can assist in the case effectively".

CBI submitted that, "one of the accused and IPS officer P P Pande is absconding and to get him in custody we need Verma's assistance. Irreparable damage will be caused to the investigation if his services would be taken away."

Pande is currently designated as Additional DG CID (Crime) with Gujarat Police.

"There are chances that other accused in the case will follow Pande by absconding themselves. Moreover, we have evidence of the involvement of an another agency in the encounter case and Verma's service is immensely needed," said advocate Ejaz Khan, who also joined in submissions for CBI.

He also informed the court that CBI has filed the revision application before the special CBI Court seeking an arrest warrant for Pande which is likely to be heard by the court tomorrow.

On April 25, special CBI court had rejected the CBI application seeking arrest warrant of Pande, who, the agency said, was evading summons for his interrogation.

Pande, a 1980 batch IPS officer of Gujarat Cadre, was Joint Police Commissioner in Ahmedabad in 2004 when on June 15 that year Isharat, along with three others, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter.

Gujarat Police at that time had claimed that all four were terrorists who entered the city to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

PTI