No SC relief for Gujarat cop in Ishrat Jahan shootout

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a petition of Additional Director General of Gujarat Police Puthvipal P. Pandey challenging an arrest warrant issued against him in the 2004 staged shootout killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

The apex court bench of Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Madan B. Lokur said the petitioner, a Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service officer, could not approach them for challenging the arrest warrant issued by a magistrate without approaching the high court.

Besides seeking the quashing of the arrest warrant, Pandey had sought the quashing of the second first information report (FIR) filed in the case on the direction of the Gujarat High Court after the investigation was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

An Ahmedabad magistrate had issued the non-bailable arrest warrant against Pandey May 2. The CBI has told the apex court that Pandey is absconding.

Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar were killed by Gujarat Police in a staged shootout June 15, 2004, in Ahmedabad.

At the outset of the hearing, senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the police officer, told the court that matter may be adjourned for the next day (Wednesday) as Pandey had filed another petition challenging the Dec 1, 2011, high court order directing the registration of the second FIR in the shootout case and handing over the investigation to the CBI.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisinh opposed the adjournment plea and said the Gujarat Police officer moved court to challenge the Dec 1, 2011, order of the high court only after she pointed out in the course of the last hearing that the order by which investigation was handed over to the CBI had never been impugned.

As Naphade pressed his plea for adjournment, the court said the subject matter of the plea before the court was different from one being raised by him.

The court told Naphade that the question was whether plea for quashing of the FIR could be gone into under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Jaisinh opposed the suggestion of maintaining status quo till the matter was taken up for hearing, which meant that the warrant against Pandey would not be enforced.

As court asked how Pandey's plea for quashing the FIR and arrest warrant was maintainable, Naphade said that all the high court's orders, including the direction for the registration of the second FIR and handing over of the investigation to the CBI, were patently illegal.

As the court rejected Pandey's plea for quashing the second FIR and his arrest warrant, Naphade said his petition challenging the Dec 1, 2011, order of the high court could be taken up at a later stage.

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