SC overrules Guj HC’s verdict; Awards life term to 12 in former CM Haren Pandya’s murder
Overruling Gujarat High Court’s decision, the Apex court on Friday convicted 12 persons involved in the murder of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in 2003. The high court acquitted the convicts of murder charges in August 2011. The sentence was announced by Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran.
Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003 while on his routine morning walk near Law Garden in Ahmedabad. The state was under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi.
The high court convicted some of the accused for criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and some were convicted under provisions of Pota. It acquitted the remaining accused and but the blame on CBI stating it had bungled up the case.
In support of the CBI, the bench stated “There is voluminous evidence discussed in criminal appeals decided today...with respect to the complicity of the accused persons in the offence...it cannot be said that investigation was unfair, lopside, botched up or misdirected in any manner whatsoever as had been observed by the high court in the judgement which we have set aside.”
It added, “The observations made by the high court were based on lopsided approach without consideration of the entire evidence on record and on the wholly incorrect appreciation of the evidence, which was clearly perverse.”
The Apex Court also dismissed a petition filed by an NGO ‘centre for Public Interest Litigation’ seeking a court-monitored fresh probe in the murder case as those sent to jail were wrongly accused and the culprits let off. It even slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on the NGP stating no further petition would be entertained in the case.