The Gujarat High Court has ordered the removal of Chief Minister Narendra Modi's name as a respondent, in an appeal filed in the Haren Pandya murder case by his father, seeking re-investigation in the case.
The high court said that as the per the Code of Criminal Procedure, people who are party during a trial in the lower court can only be cited as respondents in a criminal appeal later.
Justice J R Vora and Justice M R Shah, in their order on Wednesday, said that as the Chief Minister was not a respondent or a party in the murder case of the former minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Haren Pandya, he had no locus in this case at this stage.
Demanding re-investigation in the murder case, petitioner Vitthal Pandya had filed a 200-page appeal in the High Court, expressing his dissatisfaction over the Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
He has contended in the appeal that his son's murder was a political one, allegedly executed at the behest of Modi and that was the reason as to why he had included the name of the Chief Minister as a respondent.
The High Court observed that if such an application is allowed, the case would have to be reinvestigated.
If some material against the person is found by the investigating agency, a chargesheet is required to be filed, the court said. Thereafter, he has to be prosecuted as an accused and till that stage, he has no locus.
"We fail to appreciate why and for what purpose respondent number three (Modi) is joined in the present proceedings which is only at the stage of considering the applications of the applicant for re-investigation," the bench observed.
"According to us, at this stage, respondent number three has no locus and is not required to be heard and he could not have been joined as party respondent considering the various provisions and scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure," the judges said.
Special Public Prosecutor Harin Rawal, appearing for CBI has submitted that to continue respondent number three (Modi) in the present proceedings, will be contrary to the scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure.
Pandya was killed on March 26, 2003, near Law Garden. The case was handed over to the CBI and the agency had held 18 persons responsible for the crime and had arrested 12 of them.
The case came up for trial before the special Prevention Of Terrorism Act Court Judge Sonia Gokani, who in her judgement on July 2007, had convicted all the 12 accused.
She had sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment, two to a seven-year prison term and awarded a five-year jail term to one.