Plea in SC seeks fresh probe into Haren Pandya murder

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India, File Photo

New Delhi, Jan 24 : Citing emergence of “startling information” a petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking a fresh probe into the murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.

Pandya was murdered on March 26, 2003 in Ahmedabad when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. While 12 people were convicted by a trial court, they were all acquitted in 2011 by the Gujarat High Court which had also pulled up the CBI for “botching up the probe” and “ignoring vital scientific evidence”.

The petition filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), seeking a fresh probe cited the testimony of Azam Khan, a witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which now BJP president Amit Shah was arrested but was later absolved of all the charges.

“Public disquiet has been unabated regarding the highly unsatisfactory way in which investigation has been carried out into the murder,” said the petition.

“Khan revealed that Sohrabuddin had told him that a contract to kill Haren Pandya had been given to him by a Gujarat cadre IPS officer D.G. Vanzara and that Sohrabuddin’s associate Tulsiram Prajapati along with one Naeem and a Shahid Rampuri had murdered Haren Pandya in pursuance of that contract.

“D.G. Vanzara, who had allegedly given the contract, was later made an accused in the fake encounters of Sohrabuddin as well as Tulsiram Prajapati, but was discharged by the trial court in 2017,” said the petitioners.

The petition also refers to “Gujarat Files”, a book written by journalist Rana Ayyub where in it has been claimed that Pandya’s murder was a political conspiracy and that several politicians as well as IPS officers including DG Vanzara were involved in the conspiracy.

The petition further states that the new developments along with earlier revelations “only confirm the apprehensions raised by the High Court of Gujarat”.

The petitioner also points to a media report 2013 wherein Vanzara is said to have “told the CBI that Sohrabuddin was involved in Pandya’s murder in pursuance of a political conspiracy.

Besides a fresh investigation into the murder, the petition also prayed for producing statement of Vanzara to the CBI and an inquiry into the conduct of officers who carried out the earlier investigation.

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