The Gujarat high court on Tuesday directed a Special CBI Court in Ahmedabad to hear afresh the anticipatory bail application of senior IPS officer Prithvi Pal Pandey, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, and granted him relief from arrest till August 6.
The HC said Pandey's plea should be heard on merit.
The Additional DGP rank officer was yesterday granted anticipatory bail till 10:45 am on July 31 by the Special CBI Court, where he appeared on a stretcher.
He filed an application in the HC praying for indefinite extension of the pre-arrest bail period. Pandey's counsel Nirupam Nanavati argued before the court that grant of bail for a limited period is contrary to Supreme Court orders.
CBI counsel Ejaz Khan, however, submitted that the IPS officer's application should be rejected given the gravity of the offence and charges levelled against him.
After hearing both sides, Justice A J Desai directed the Special CBI Court No. 2 to hear again the anticipatory bail application of Pandey based on merits of the case.
Justice Desai also asked the investigation agency not to arrest Pandey till August 6. However, Pandey was told to remain present everyday before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H S Khutwad, who presides over another CBI Court, where chargesheet in the case was filed on July 3.
The Supreme Court had last Friday asked Pandey to remain present before the trial court here on July 29 and also offered him protection from arrest by CBI till Monday.
Pandey was admitted to a hospital on Sunday after he complained of chest pain and other medical complications. He was brought to the court in an ambulance and appeared before the Judge in a stretcher.
The 1982-batch IPS officer was Joint Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, when Mumbai girl Ishrat, her friend Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai and their associates Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were gunned down on June 15, 2004 on the city's outskirts.
Crime Branch had then claimed the four were terrorists on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The CBI, which probed the case, in its charge sheet termed the encounter as "fake". The agency named seven senior Gujarat police officials, including Pandey, as accused and charged them with murder and criminal conspiracy.