Ahmedabad, Aug 29: Slamming the CBI for its “washed up” and “blinkered” investigations in the 2003 Haren Pandya murder case, the Gujarat High Court today dropped murder charges against all the 12 accused in the case. However, the charges of attempt to murder will remain on all the accused.
This means that the appeal of the accused in the sensational murder case is partially allowed, Special public prosecutor J M Panchal said.
A division bench of the high court comprising justices D H Vaghela and J C Upadhyay said the investigations by the central agency in the case were “washed up, blinkered and had left lot to desire.”
Criticising the CBI, the court further said the investigating officer should be made accountable for such lapses which has caused injustice to the accused and wastage of public resources.
It said the investigation agency could not prove murder charges hence the conviction by the trial court, where the accused were convicted of murder with criminal conspiracy would not survive hence the order is set aside. Panchal said that following the court verdict, the sentence of the most of the accused except the prime accused Ashgar Ali is likely to be reduced.
Pandya, former Minister of State for Home, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, near Law Garden area of the city when he had gone for a morning walk.
The CBI had stated in its charge sheet that the murder was carried out to avenge the 2002 riots.
A special POTA court had convicted 12 accused in the case out of total 15 who were nabbed.
The court had sentenced nine persons to life imprisonment while two others were awarded seven years prison and another was handed out a five-year-jail term. The main accused from Hyderabad, Ashgar Ali was sentenced to remain in prison till he is alive.
After receiving flak from Gujarat High Court for “botched up” and “blinkered” probe in the Haren Pandya muder case, the CBI today decided to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.
A decision in this regard was taken today at a meeting of senior officials here, agency sources said. They said it was decided that a Special Leave Petition will be filed in the apex court after going through detailed analysis of the High Court verdict.
Pandya, who was a former minister of state for home in a BJP government and was once close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was shot dead on March 26, 2003 in Ahmedabad when he was out for a morning walk. According to CBI, Pandya was murdered to avenge the 2002 communal riots.
Criticising the CBI, the court observed, “What clearly stands out from the record of the present case is that the investigation in the case of murder of Haren Pandya has all throughout been botched up and blinkered and has left a lot to be desired.” PTI