Gandhinagar: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the CBI to streamline its investigation in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and file a charge sheet by July 4.
Also on Tuesday, the court ordered that Gujarat cadre IPS officer Satish Verma, who is one of the officers investigating the case, be sent back to the State from June 23, 2013.
A division bench of justice Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari told the CBI that there was considerable delay in the investigation and filing of the charge sheet resulting in the accused being released on bail.
“This needs to be streamlined and the agency is directed to file the charge sheet in this case by July 4 so that no other accused gets the benefit of bail due to lapse of time,” the bench said.
Commenting on the manner of investigation conducted so far by the investigating agency, the court said CBI needs to concentrate on the genuineness of encounter instead of other aspects like the status of the persons who have lost their lives in the encounter.
“We just want to ensure that the investigation remains on track so that the truth can be unearthed,” it said.
On utilisation of services of Mr. Verma by the CBI, the court said sufficient time was given to CBI to avail the services of Mr. Verma.
“We direct that his services to CBI will be available only till June 23 and from the next date, he shall report back to the State government,” the court further said.
The court has also ordered CBI to file a compliance report by July 26 when the next hearing of the case is scheduled.
The court order came on a day the agency questioned Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajinder Kumar in connection with the case.
This is the second time the IB officer has been grilled by CBI sleuths probing his alleged role in the fake encounter in which 19-year old Jahan was killed along with four others on June 15, 2004 by a team of Crime Branch officials on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Sources said Mr. Kumar, a 1979 Batch IPS officer of Manipur-Tripura cadre, had allegedly generated intelligence input that a group of Lashkar terrorists are coming to Ahmedabad to target Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
During the probe, the CBI got indications that Mr. Kumar’s role was not limited to the input but also in the encounter which was declared fake by the Special Investigation Team constituted by the Gujarat High Court and inquiry conducted by a Metropolitan Magistrate.
The sources said the officer had claimed in his defence that the intelligence input given by him, which had led to the encounter, was genuine and giving input does not mean that he directed police to carry out the encounter.
Gujarat police had alleged that Jahan was part of a LeT module.
The sources said the focus of the agency’s probe has been on whether intelligence officers were active participants in the encounter.
The CBI’s move to question Mr. Kumar had strained its relations with IB and Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh had to convene a meeting of CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and IB chief Asif Ibrahim to discuss the issue.
The CBI had issued fresh notices to the officer under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure as previous examination of the officer was not satisfactory and replies given by him, the agency said, appeared diversionary.