NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday admitted the appeal filed by the CBI and the Gujarat government challenging the State High Court’s order to acquit 12 convicts in the murder of former State Home Minister Haren Pandya.
A Bench comprising Justice P Sathasivam and Justice J Chelameshwar issued notices to the convicts and directed them to file their responses. Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval appeared for the CBI. Senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao appearing for Gujarat averred that the acquittal by the High Court was erroneous. Interestingly, the High Court had, while acquitting the 12 convicts of the murder charges, upheld the trial court’s decision to convict them for criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and offences under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act. Pandya, who was very close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was shot dead on March 26, 2003,
in Ahmedabad when he was out for his morning
walk. The case of the CBI is that Pandya was killed to avenge the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.
Incidentally, the High Court had criticized the CBI for botching the investigation and said, “What clearly stands out from the record of the present case is that the investigation in the case of the murder of Haren Pandya has all through been botched up and blinkered and has left a lot to be desired.” The accused had already spent eight and a half years in jail.