A special court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Ishrat Jahan encounter case accused IPS officer Prithvi Pal Pandey who then moved the Gujarat high court, which refused to give him protection from arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation till hearing of his plea on Wednesday.
Justice A J Desai of the high court, deferred till Wednesday the hearing on his plea challenging the special court order and declined to offer further protection to the additional director general of police-rank officer from arrest by CBI, which is probing the case and has dubbed the encounter as "fake".
Pandey's advocate Mitesh Amin had requested the high court to offer protection to his client from arrest by CBI till Wednesday but the judge rejected the plea.
A special CBI court Tuesday morning rejected Pandey's pre-arrest bail application after both sides completed their arguments last Saturday. Immediately after the special court rejected his plea, Pandey challenged the order in HC.
However, CBI lawyer Yogesh Ravani told the HC that the entral agency should be given a notice regarding the move to challenge special court's order at least 24 hours before the application and hence the plea should be heard on Wednesday.
Thereafter, Justice Desai put off for Wednesday hearing on the top officer's application challenging the ruling of the special court.
The 1982-batch IPS officer was joint commissioner of police (crime), Ahmedabad, when Ishrat, a Mumbai-based student, her friend Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, and their associates Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were gunned down by crime branch sleuths on June 15, 2004 near Ahmedabad.
Police had then claimed the four were terrorists on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
However, according to the CBI's chargesheet filed last month, the encounter, a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau, was stage-managed.
Seven Gujarat policemen, including Pandey, have been named as accused and charged with murder and criminal conspiracy, among others.
Image: P P Pandey