Ishrat encounter case: Ex-Gujarat top cop P.P. Pandey sent to judicial custody (Update:Ishrat

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Aug.13 (ANI): Gujarat's former Additional Director General of Police P.P. Pandey has been sent to judicial custody after he surrendered before a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, a day after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea against whom a non-bailable warrant that had been issued in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

The apex court had said on Monday that his conduct in remaining an absconder despite repeated summons to present himself in court,disentitled him for relief.

"Your conduct itself makes you dis-entitled for this plea (bail)," a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan said while referring to Pandey's behaviour of not submitting to the jurisdiction of the trial court which had issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

Senior advocate Jaspal Singh, appearing for Pandey, raised questions on the impartiality of the CBI in the case but the bench refused to give credence to his contention.

The bench also expressed its anger over such high-profile persons approaching the apex court for seeking relief which consume a lot of time at the cost of poor litigants who have to wait for justice.

"This court has become a safe haven for such people. We have not been able to hear criminal appeals pending before us for years. It's a sorry state of affair. I am willing to say it on oath," Justice Chauhan observed.

The bench further raised question on the maintainability of Pandey's petition in view of his being an absconder in the case.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing for the CBI, vehemently opposed the plea saying he has become an absconder for the second time in the case and his whereabouts are not known.

"Let him disclose where he is and we will pick him up," she said.

Pandey, a 1982-batch IPS officer, has been named as an accused in the 2004 fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

The apex court had on August 8 refused to grant interim protection from arrest to Pandey till Monday.

The trial court had on August 7 rejected his plea for exemption from personal appearance and issued a non-bailable warrant against him after he failed to appear before it. Pandey, who was declared absconder, had appeared before the special CBI court in Ahmedabad on July 29 on the direction of the apex court.

The apex court had on July 26 directed Pandey to appear before the trial court on July 29 and had restrained the CBI from arresting him till then. The High Court had on July 1 dismissed Pandey's plea for quashing of FIR against him in the fake encounter case. It had also declared him an absconder in the case.

Pandey, as the Joint Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, was heading the Crime Branch when Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter allegedly with Gujarat Police on the city outskirts on June 15, 2004.

Police had then claimed the four were terrorists on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

However, according to the CBI's charge sheet filed in July, the encounter, a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau, was stage-managed.

Seven Gujarat policemen, including Pandey, have been named as accused and charged with murder and criminal conspiracy, among others. (ANI with inputs)

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