Charges Dropped Against Vanzara in Ishrat Jahan Case, Activists Cry Foul

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Retired Gujarat IPS officer D.G. Vanzara.

Former police officers DG Vanzara and NK Amin had been charged with conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder of Ishrat Jahan by the CBI

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

AHMEDABAD – A CBI special court on Thursday in Ahmedabad dropped all the charges against former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan. The move came after the Gujarat government refused to sanction their prosecution. Human Rights activists accused the Gujarat government of protecting “their man”.

Vanzara and Amin had filed for a discharge plea in the court immediately after the BJP government in Gujarat disapproved the sanction to prosecute them.

Judge P K Pandey said that since the government had not sanctioned their prosecution, their discharge plea would be allowed and all the charges against them will be dropped. The sanction of the government is mandatory to persecute any public servant for any action that was part of his official duty.

Section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure says, “When any person who is or was a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction”.

Former Gujarat police chief P P Pandey, who had been in jail, had also been discharged last year, for his connection in the Ishrat Jahan case, in which the Gujarat police had killed the 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan near Ahmedabad in June 2004. The police had alleged that she and the others killed along with her were Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who were planning to assassinate the then chief minister of Gujarat – Narendra Modi. But the CBI during its investigation found the encounter to be fake. In its charge sheet, seven police officers including D G Vanzara and P P Pandey had been named.

“There is only one option left, which is to ask the new government, post 23 May, to initiate a fresh investigation for this case. And there should be an immediate appeal against this order. The government has deliberately weakened the case,” said Ravi Nair, chief of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC).

He maintained that section 197 created a roadblock in the procedure to prosecute the errant officers. He has been demanding to abolish section 197 which is a hurdle in providing justice to the victims.

“The government will keep doing this till section 197 is in the law. This section is not justifiable in any democratic country. The British created this law to protect their officers. This is absolutely wrong. We have been demanding to abolish it,” said Nair while talking to Caravan Daily.

According to the Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, BJP government is doing so because they don’t believe in justice nor do they want to provide justice to the minorities.

“These cops are the man of the government. They are protecting them. The BJP government have constantly been protecting their officers who have been involved in the Gujarat riots and other crimes. They don’t believe in justice. They assume that whatever they are doing is right. There is no hope for justice from them,” said Khan. He maintained that it was mandatory for the government to sanction the prosecution of the accused cops, as the allegations against them are extremely serious. They have been accused of fake encounter and torture.

Khan also concurs Nair’s view about the abolition of section 197. He said it is undemocratic. If someone commits a crime, there is no necessity of permission from the government. The police must prosecute them. The police should be given the right to prosecute them,” said Khan. He added that this government is protecting ‘their man’ even when there is no section 197. For example, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur is being protected even though she is not government employees.

Delhi University Professor Apporvanand Jha added, “In this case, there is no need of sanction from the government since the police officers were not performing their duty when they killed Ishrat Jahan and others. They were committing a crime. So, the base of dropping charges against them is questionable.”

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