Father of Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, who was allegedly killed in a fake encounter along with Ishrat Jahan and two others in 2004, on Tuesday opposed the discharge application filed by former IPS officer P P Pandey at a special CBI court here. Moving an application in the court of special judge J K Pandya, Pranesh’s father Gopinath Pillai, who was added as a respondent on the order of the CBI court, said Pandey’s discharge would “obstruct the uncovering of the conspiracy”. “Pandey’s discharge will obstruct the uncovering of the conspiracy to murder the present respondent’s son and others, and will hinder the trial court from arriving at the true facts,” the application said. “Pandey had misrepresented and concealed the case against him as disclosed by the CBI. Pandey, then a joint commissioner of police, was a key conspirator behind the abduction and killing of the four and was involved in criminal conspiracy, as proven by recorded statements of witnesses,” Gopinath said in the application. He said Pandey had “not denied” any knowledge of the incident in his discharge application. “There are legal evidences which are more than a strong suspicion and therefore, grounds to frame charges and proceed with the trial,” Gopinath said. The court posted the matter for December 16.
An FIR was registered against Pandey and others in December, 2011 and a charge sheet was filed against him by the CBI on July 3, 2013 for murder, criminal conspiracy and other charges under various sections of IPC and the Arms Act. Pandey surrendered before a special CBI judge here on August 13, 2013. He was granted bail in February, 2015. Pandey had moved the discharge plea last December, saying that the statements of two witnesses against him were contradictory. He had also cited his reinstatement and promotion as incharge DGP (he resigned in April this year following the Supreme Court’s reservation against him) as one of the grounds for seeking his discharge. He had claimed that none of the 105 witnesses examined by the court named him in the fake encounter case.
Pandey had also said that he should be discharged as he did not have any “direct or indirect involvement in the case,” and that the court had not yet taken supplementary charge sheet on record. He had submitted before the court that the CBI initiated action against him without taking sanction from the state government as per the provisions of section 197 of CrPC. Arguing against Pandey’s discharge plea, the CBI had told the court that the agency had enough evidence against him.
In the first charge sheet filed by the CBI in 2013, seven Gujarat police officers were named as accused, including IPS officers P P Pandey, D G Vanzara and G L Singhal who are facing charges for kidnapping, murder and conspiracy. Pandey is facing charges of murder (section 302), criminal conspiracy (section 120(B)), abettor present when crime is committed (section 114), and sections of the Arms Act.
The case pertains to alleged staged encounter of Ishrat Jahan (19), her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two others, by crime branch officials on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of the city. The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists who had landed in Gujarat to kill then chief minister Narendra Modi.
The SIT constituted by the Gujarat High Court had concluded that it was not a genuine encounter as the four were first abducted, held illegally and then murdered in cold blood.