24 Sep : The Gujarat High Court on Friday constituted a new special investigations team (SIT) comprising three IPS officers to probe the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
A division bench of justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari directed the state government to issue a notification regarding the formation of the new SIT within two weeks.
The SIT has been asked to submit its report within three months of the issuance of the notification.
The decision came during the hearing of a petition filed by the father of Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, a suspected terrorist killed along with Ishrat, seeking review of the high court’s earlier order transferring the probe in the case to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
The SIT, probing some of the 2002 riot cases, had earlier conveyed to the court its inability to investigate the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Mumbai-based Ishrat was killed in an encounter along with Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani by crime branch officials near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The IPS officers in new SIT selected by the court are Karnail Singh, a 1984 batch IPS officer whose name was suggested by the union home ministry, Mohan Jha 1985 batch Gujarat cadre officer named by the state government and Satish Verma of 1986 batch was suggested by the petitioner.
The court had earlier asked all the parties in the case to submit names of IPS officers for inclusion in the case.
The court has also said in its order that SIT shall not take assistance of any Gujarat Police officer who is directly or indirectly involved in the Ishrat case. The court has said SIT will have liberty to take action if anyone found guilty under the criminal procedure code during the investigation.
The court also said formation of the new SIT was considered as the Godhra SIT has expressed its inability to take up the probe. It also said a broad-based SIT for investigations into the encounter case was more convenient and practical to help trace truth in the incident.
The court on August 23 had directed the state government to get the view of SIT probing some 2002 riot cases, if it was willing to take up probe in Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Gujarat Police at the time of encounter had claimed that Ishrat Jahan and the three others were LeT operatives on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
According to police, the encounter was carried out based on specific inputs from the Central Intelligence that LeT was planning to carry out attacks on various parts of India including Gujarat.
However, report by judicial magistrate S P Tamang had said the Ishrat encounter was fake and carried out in cold blood.
The Gujarat High Court had earlier formed an SIT comprising IPS officers Pramod Kumar, Mohan Jha and J K Bhatt. But it was later dissolved after Supreme Court asked Gujarat High Court to look into the petitions regarding Ishrat afresh.