Ahmedabad, June 15 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on a PIL filed by former top cop Julio Riberio challenging the appointment of P.P. Pandey, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake shootout case, as state’s in-charge Director General of Police.
A division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice V.M. Pancholi reserved the order in the PIL that challenged Pandey’s appointment since he is an accused in the case and is currently out on regular bail when the trial in the case is on.
Four people, including Ishrat (19), Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillay, Amjadali Akabarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an alleged fake gunfight with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. Gujarat Police had then claimed that the four had links with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and were in the city to kill then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Appearing for the state government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the PIL should not have been admitted in the first place by the court since this was a service matter and should have been referred to the tribunal concerned.
He contended that Pandey being the seniormost IPS official was only given an additional charge of DGP and his promotion was not for a regular post.
Pandey was jailed after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named him in a chargesheet along with other senior police officials in the case. After being released on bail, Pandey was re-instated in service in February last year and made the director of Anti-Corruption Bureau. On April 16, he took over as the in-charge DGP of Gujarat, following sudden transfer of incumbent P.C. Thakur to Delhi.
Meanwhile, appearing on behalf of Ribeiro, advocate I.H. Syed forcefully argued Pandey should not have been reinstated in the first place and by that contention did not even merit an additional charge as he is an accused in the case and there was a likelihood of him tampering with the evidence in the pending trial.
Syed contended that with Pandey holding the topmost position, he could also end up influencing several of his juniors who may need to testify in the case.
The state government had countered this in a written submission claiming Pandey was unlikely to influence the case since it was investigated by the CBI and not the state police. It also argued that no such thing had happened after he took over as the in-charge DGP.
Besides, the government pleader pointed out that there were no conditions set in Pandey’s bail order that he could not be given promotions or made the in-charge DGP.