The Supreme Court bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea seeking fresh court-monitored probe into the murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in March 2003.
During the hearing, the bench questioned the petitioner as to why a fresh petition has been moved seeking court-monitored probe when already a criminal appeal in the matter has been pending before the apex court.
“Criminal appeal was being heard and then you file a petition during the pendency of the appeal. What was the purpose of that? We are not averse to any material, but the law requires everything to be filed in the criminal appeal, not in an independent petition. Why are you filing independent petitions in parallel proceedings?”, the bench questioned.
To this, Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that in the past also the apex court has directed fresh probe when new evidence has come to light.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has opposed the petition alleging it was a brazen attempt of abuse of process by the petitioner.
After hearing arguments from both the sides, the bench reserved its verdict on the matter.
On March 26, 2003, Haren Pandya, Gujarat’s Home Minister between 1998 and 2001, under Keshubhai Patel’s BJP dispensation, was shot dead in his car outside Ahmedabad’s Law Garden.
His wife, Jagruti Pandya, raised her suspicion over the initial probe in the murder carried out by the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch under Deputy Commissioner of Police DG Vanzara.
The plea filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) stated that the need for a fresh probe had emerged in perspective of some information that has been surfaced recently and was also reported by the media.
Some sources say that another wing of the CBI, which was probing the Sohrabuddin and Prajapati killings had hinted about a connection between the murders of Pandya and Sohrabuddin.
It was added that the information regarding Pandya’s murder, was never probed properly by the CBI. As per sources, it has been alleged that the murder of former minister was a result of a political conspiracy among top government officials.
So far the CBI had named around 15 accused in Pandya’s murder and a Special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Court had convicted 12 accused and sentenced to life in 2007.
However, in August 2011, the Gujarat High Court reversed the lower court’s “perverse and illegal” verdict and acquitted all the convicted accused citing lack of evidence against them.
In pursuant to High Court's order of acquittal the CBI moved appeal before Supreme Court which is currently pending.