The Supreme Court Friday posted for February 12 a petition seeking a fresh investigation into the murder of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in March 2003.
Haren Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003 in his car outside Ahmedabad's Law Garden. His wife, Jagruti Pandya, had raised questions over the initial probe in the murder, which was handled by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch under Deputy Commissioner of Police DG Vanzara. Vanzara has since retired.
A petition filed in the Supreme Court sought a fresh, court-monitored probe into the murder. The plea by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) says the need for a fresh probe had arisen in view of "some startling information that has recently come to light and has been extensively reported by the media regarding Mr Haren Pandya's murder, information which was never investigated into by the investigating agency, the CBI".
The petitioners said that Azam Khan-a witness in the encounter case of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi, and associate Tulsiram Prajapati-had told a Mumbai court during the trial that "Sheikh had told him that Mr Haren Pandya was murdered as a part of a contract killing..." involving a senior IPS officer. In November last year, Khan, an associate of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati, said that while he had told the CBI investigator about it in 2010, the officer had refused to record it as part of his statement.
The CBI had named 15 accused in Pandya’s murder. A trial court convicted 12 of them on June 25, 2007.
However, the Gujarat High Court acquitted all of them in August 2011, citing lack of evidence. The CBI's appeal against the high court’s verdict is pending before the apex court.