Friday, June 24, 2011

Ishrat probe should not become a mockery: HC

AHMEDABAD: Newly-appointed chairman of the special investigation team probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter, Satyapal Singh, maintained before the Gujarat high court on Friday that he was not keen to take up the job.

Irked with this response, the court warned the Centre that the investigation process should not result into a 'mockery' , and directed in clear terms, "If you cannot command your officer, change him. It seems that your officers are not in your command".

However, the court asked the SIT to continue with the probe and book all those who are guilty. Singh, who is an additional DGP from Maharashtra , told the HC that he wanted to quit the job because his batchmate P P Pandey was being investigated in the case and that he did not know Gujarati.

The court took on Singh for bypassing the amicus curaie in this case and not providing papers to the Centre . The division bench of the HC refused to believe the superficial reasons put forth by the senior cop like language barrier, Pandey being a batchmate and friend and internal differences between SIT members — Mohan Jha and Satish Verma. The court expressed surprise as to how a Mumbai policeman could not follow Gujarati. The court suggested that Pandey could be interrogated by someone else.

Singh happens to be the fourth police officer to be heading this case. Lashing out at the Centre for its noncommittal approach, the court said, "If there is no zeal to work, it is better to relieve him (Singh)". The bench asked the Centre to submit a report on July 14 on whether it would command its officer to perform his duty or come up with another officer's name to head the SIT.

The court's ire was directed to the Centre for not living up to the "assurance " it gave last time that Singh was the best option. Assistant solicitor general P S Champaneri , representing the Centre, blamed the Maharashtra government for the fiasco. He sought a week's time to seek Singh's replacement . "There is no dearth of senior IPS officers... The same thing must not happen again," the court said. The next hearing is on July 15.

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