Court questions CBI on ‘differential approach’ in Ishrat Jahan encounter case

The court is hearing the discharge applications filed by four accused officers from Gujarat — JG Parmar, Tarun Barot, GL Singhal and Anaju Chaudhary.

The special CBI court hearing the discharge applications of four accused police officers in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case on Wednesday sought the agency’s reply on its “differential approach” with respect to seeking government permission to prosecute the officers. The CBI is expected to respond on November 26, when the matter is expected to be heard further.

The court of judge RK Chudawala told CBI advocate RC Kodekar that he must be prepared to answer “queries of this court” after arguments by the accused officers on why the agency sought to seek sanction from the state government to prosecute the present accused. In the case of the accused intelligence officers, CBI had sought sanction from the central government.

The court is hearing the discharge applications filed by four accused officers from Gujarat — JG Parmar, Tarun Barot, GL Singhal and Anaju Chaudhary. They moved the discharge applications after the CBI court discharged three other officers accused in the case — PP Pandey, DG Vanzara and NK Amin.

The court’s decision on the discharge pleas of these four accused officers seeking dropping of proceedings is crucial — acceptance of the discharge plea can lead to immediate disposal of the case and rejection of the pleas would result in the court proceeding with the stage of framing of charges against the accused.

Judge Chudawala questioned why the CBI was “demarcating or drawing a distinction”. The court also asked why the CBI was waiting for the court’s direction when it comes to the prosecution of state officers, while for IB officers, it had sought sanction from the central government of its own volition.

Lawyers of the accused made submissions on the differential treatment of the four Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) officers (Rajinder Kumar, Rajeev Wankhede, MK Sinha, T Mittal), with regard to the seven accused Gujarat police officers despite the CBI’s chargesheet in 2014 concluding that the Ishrat “fake encounter” was “the result of a joint operation of the Gujarat Police and SIB, Ahmedabad”. In June 2015, the CBI sought the Centre’s sanction to prosecute the four SIB officers but was denied the same.