Ishrat case: SC rejects PIL for relief to police officers

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New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to quash a criminal case against Gujarat Police personnel involved in the Ishrat Jahan shoot-out case in view of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley’s statement regarding the matter.

A bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy told petitioner M.L. Sharma that the court could not pass any order under Article 32 and that he should have approached the high court invoking Article 226.

The police personnel were only discharging their duty in liquidating Ishrat Jahan and three other terrorists in June 2004, said Sharma.

How could they be hauled up for killing hard core terrorists, he wondered.

He told the court that police personnel were facing suspension because “a person killed (in police action) belongs to a particular community”.

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“Article 32 of the constitution provides for the right to move Supreme Court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the people guaranteed under the constitution. Article 226 of the constitution that spells out the powers of the high court to entertain certain pleas says that it could issue order for the enforcement of fundamental rights or for any other purpose,” the petitioner said.

The court did make it clear that dismissal of Sharma’s PIL (public interest litigation) plea would not come in the way of those having locus in Ishrat Jahan case to seek remedies in the light of recent revelations by Headley.

The court said this on the plea by the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who had appeared for Gujarat government.

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Besides the quashing of charges, the petitioner had sought “proper compensation” to the Gujarat police personnel who were prosecuted on the charge that the shoot-out was fake.

Based on the deposition of Headley, the PIL sought declaration that the killing of Ishrat Jahan was not an offence.

Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan and her three alleged associates Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar were killed by Gujarat Police in an allegedly fake shoot-out on June 15, 2004.

Gujarat Police had described the four as Pakistani-controlled terrorists who came from Jammu and Kashmir to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Last month, Headley has told a Mumbai court that Ishrat Jehan was a member of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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