R R Verma on Thursday took charge as the fourth chief of the Special Investigation Team probing the Ishrat Jahan police encounter case at the agency's office in Shahibaug area in Ahemedabad.
Verma, a 1978 batch Indian Police Service officer, was appointed as chairman of the three-member SIT set up by Gujarat High Court which is monitoring the probe. He is currently posted as additional director general with the Central Industrial Security Force in Delhi.
"I have taken charge of the SIT on Thursday following the orders of the Gujarat High Court and the notification issued in this regard by the Gujarat government," Verma told reporters after taking charge.
"From here we will be moving forward with the investigations. I cannot tell you the direction as I have just taken charge," said Verma, who was accompanied by other two SIT members, Mohan Jha and Satish Verma.
The IPS officer was appointed as SIT chief on July 19 after J V Ramudu, an Andhra Pradesh cadre IPS officer who was assigned with the responsibility on July 15 by the High Court, declined to join citing health reasons.
Ramudu had further said his consent in the matter was not taken by the Union government, which was contrary to the statement made by it before the division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari hearing the case.
At the time of appointment of the SIT, almost a year back, it was headed by Delhi cadre IPS officer Karnail Singh, who was relieved by the court following his transfer to the northeastern state of Meghalaya.
The court then appointed Maharashtra Cadre IPS officer Satyapal Singh, who after assuming the charge last month, requested the HC to relieve him citing various reasons, including difference between the two SIT members, Jha and Satish Verma and the language barrier.
Singh was relieved on July 15 and replaced by Ramudu who declined to take up the assignment following which the court appointed R R Verma. Ishrat, along with Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, was killed in a police encounter on June 15, 2004.
After the encounter city crime branch had claimed that the deceased were Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists who had come to kill Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
The probe in the case is being supervised directly by the Gujarat High Court which had constituted the SIT last year to investigate genuineness of the encounter after petitions filed by Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar and Gopinath Pillai, father of another victim of the encounter Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai.