The Supreme Court today (Friday, July 5) convicted 12 persons for killing former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in 2003, overruling Gujarat High Court judgement acquitting the accused of murder charge.
The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also dismissed a public interest petition filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) seeking court-monitored fresh investigation into the killing and imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 and said no further petition would be entertained in the case.
The judgement came on appeals filed by CBI and the Gujarat government challenging the acquittal of 12 persons accused in the case of murdering Haren Pandya, home minister in the then Narendra Modi-led state government in Gujarat.
Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003 in Ahmedabad near Law Garden during morning walk.
According to the CBI, he was murdered to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state.
The Gujarat high court, while acquitting the 12 persons of the charges of murder, had upheld the trial court’s decision to convict them of the charges of criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and for the offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
The trial court had awarded punishment ranging from five years to life imprisonment to the convicts.
On January 5, 2012, the top court had admitted the appeals filed by the CBI and state against the high court’s judgement. It had on January 31 this year reserved the verdict on the appeals in the matter.
According to CBI, prior to Pandya’s killing, the convicts had made an attempt on the life of a local VHP leader Jagdish Tewari on March 11, 2003.
The agency had claimed these two incidents were part of a single conspiracy to spread terror among people in the aftermath of post-Godhra riots.
The offenders were illegally sent to Pakistan by absconding accused Rasul Parti and Mufti Sufiyan Patangia and trained at the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, the agency had claimed.
The case was earlier probed by the state police but later handed over to the CBI.