New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the plea of Gujarat's Additional DGP PP Pandey for quashing of FIR and protection against the non-bailable arrest warrant, issued by a CBI court against him in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
"Having heard the parties at some length, we are not persuaded to entertain the petition under Article 32 (of the constitution) straight away. The petition is dismissed and the petitioner has the liberty to approach the High Court," a bench of justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Madan B Lokur said.
Puthvipal P Pandey, a 1982-batch IPS officer, has been made accused in the fake encounter case for providing "so-called crucial intelligence inputs" to fellow policemen that Ishrat and three others were LeT operatives and were on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Pandey was Joint Commissioner of Police when on June 15, 2004, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
At the outset, the bench on Tuesday also made it clear to senior advocate Sekhar Naphade, appearing for Pandey, that it cannot entertain the plea for quashing of the FIR in a petition filed under the Article 32 of the Constitution as the plea should have been first filed with the High Court under section 482 (quashing of the criminal proceedings) of the CrPC.
"I am a senior police officer, who simply acted on the intelligence input and passed them on and my life and liberty cannot be taken away without following the due process of law as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution," Naphade said, adding that a petition to the apex court was not "premature" and rather, maintainable.
He also assailed the Gujarat High Court directing the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to register the second FIR in the case saying "this order was illegal." The High Court also followed a policy, "which is unheard of", by allowing the SIT to take a decision by majority as some members had conflicting views on the probe in the case, the counsel for Pandey said.
Naphade also objected to the transfer of case by the High Court to CBI after the SIT concluded the investigation, contending this also makes it a fit case to be entertained by the apex court.
Citing the decision in the Ashish Nandy case, the lawyer said there have been instances where FIRs have been quashed by the Supreme Court. Initially, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing for CBI, objected to Pandey's plea, saying he is an absconding officer and the court should not entertain it.
Earlier, the court had made clear that it will not quash the FIR lodged against the officer. An FIR against Pandey and others was lodged by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on December 16, 2011 following directions from the High Court before whom two petitions were filed by the mother and father of victims Ishrat and Javed Shaikh respectively. Pandey, in his plea, had sought quashing of the FIR and protection against the arrest on the ground that he has
been falsely implicated by his colleagues, also IPS officers, who were jealous of him.
The officer, against whom a special CBI court had also issued an arrest warrant on May 2 for failing to respond to the summons of the probe agency, said in his plea that he was not involved in anyway in the case and he had just conveyed the information received from the intelligence to the crime branch officials.