Ahmedabad: A Special Court on Saturday remanded senior Gujarat IPS officer PP Pandey in CBI custody for 5 days till August 21 in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The court accepted Additional DGP's plea that he be questioned by CBI in the presence of his lawyer.
Pandey had surrendered before a court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday after evading arrest for months. He had gone underground in April after his name surfaced in the encounter probe and was declared an absconder by the court. He resurfaced after the Supreme Court, and subsequently Gujarat High Court, temporarily gave him protection from arrest before again going underground.
Khutwad had reserved order on CBI plea last Wednesday after the defence and the prosecution counsels completed arguments. CBI lawyer had argued that Pandey's interrogation was required to find out the real identity of two of the encounter victims, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.
They were with Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai girl, and her friend Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, the other two victims. After the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea on Monday, Pandey surrendered before the CBI Court on Tuesday and was sent to judicial custody till August 27.
He was Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) in Ahmedabad when Ishrat and the three others were gunned down by Crime Branch sleuths on June 15, 2004. Gujarat Police had then claimed they were terrorists, but CBI later concluded that the four were killed in a "fake" gunfight.
CBI lawyer Ejaz Khan argued that Pandey was part of a larger conspiracy and the agency needed to interrogate him to find out the role of other accused. "The agency still has to ascertain the true identity of Johar and Rana. As Pandey had visited these two when they were kept in prior custody, his custodial interrogation is vital," submitted Khan.
(With additional inputs from PTI)