SC breather to Gujarat Police officer in Ishrat Jahan case

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) In a breather to Gujarat Police's Additional Director General Puthvipal P. Pandey - an accused in Ishrat Jahan staged shootout case, the Supreme Court Friday said he would not be arrested till Monday when he will appear before the trial court.

A bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde said the protection from being arrested was available to Pandey till Monday but would end if he fails to appear before the trial court, which has issued an arrest warrant against him.

The apex court further said that due process of law would follow after Pandey surrenders before the trial court.

It said he was at liberty to move for bail after appearing before the trial court. The court said that Pandey's application for bail would be dealt with strictly in accordance with law.

The court passed its order after it asked Pandey to undertake that he would appear before the trial court in pursuance to its summons on Monday.

Appearing for Pandey who has been declared an absconder by the trial court, senior counsel Jaspal Singh said that his client was ready to appear before the trial court provided the date and time was fixed.

Opposing his plea, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisinh said that there was no need to give him protection from being arrested as he had gone underground and was an accused in the staged shootout of Ishrat Jahan and her associates.

An Ahmedabad magistrate had issued non-bailable arrest warrant against Pandey May 2. Pandey was joint commissioner of police in Ahmedabad heading the Crime Branch when Ishrat Jahan and her three associates were eliminated in stage shootout.

The Mumbai college girl and her three associates - Javed Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar - were killed by Gujarat Police June 15, 2004.

Initially, the investigation into the killing was carried out by the Gujarat Police which had filed a closure report, claiming Ishrat Jahan and the others were terrorists who came from Jammu and Kashmir to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

On the plea by Ishrat Jahaan's mother Shamima Kausar, the Gujarat High Court entrusted investigation to a Special Investigation Team. However, on another plea by Pillai's father, Gopinath Pillai, the high court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigation.

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