Supreme Court notice to CBI on Gujarat cop Amin's bail plea
The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the CBI on a bail plea of senior Gujarat police officer Narendra Amin who is in jail for his alleged involvement in Ishrat Jahan staged shootout case.
A bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice S.A.Bobde issued the notice as senior counsel Ram Jethmalani addressed the court on the issue.
On the direction of the Gujarat High Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed the charge sheet on Dec 16, 2011, naming 20 people, including Amin as accused in the case.
Amin was arrested in April 4, 2013. The charge sheet in the matter was filed July 3, 2013. His plea for bail was rejected by the additional chief judicial magistrate July 9, 2013, and an appeal against the order was dismissed by the Gujarat High Court Aug 16, 2013.
Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan and her three associates - Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar - were killed by Gujarat Police in an allegedly staged shootout June 15, 2004.
Police had described them as Pakistani Fidayeens who came from Jammu and Kashmir to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Amin contended that the charge sheet was filed on July 3, 2013, which was beyond 90 days' limit as prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Thus, he was entiled to "default bail".
Holding the high court order as erroneous, Amin in his petition told the Supreme Court that the application for bail under Section 167(2) of the CrPC was for compulsory bail and not for regular bail and the denial of bail by the high court was based on an erroneous construction of the provision.
He contended that mere filing of charge sheet on the 90th day was not sufficient for the compliance of Section 167 (2) as such. It should be an outcome of complete investigation coupled with all the relevant documents that prosecution wants to rely upon to establish its case.
Earlier the high court, while observing that the filing of charge sheet on July 3, 2013, "took care of the statutory time limit (of 90 days) contemplated for investigation", said the "right of the applicant accused (Amin) to seek default bail under the said provision no more remained alive. The challan was filed within 90 days which was a due compliance (of 90 days' limit provided under section 167(2) of the CrPC)".
It had held that after 90 days, the section ceases to govern the rights of the accused and the matter went out of the province of said section.
"The right (of Amin) stood extinguished as soon as the charge sheet was filed, which was valid charge-sheet within the statutory period," it said, dismissing Amin's bail plea.
In the meanwhile, the apex court has directed that another petition of Amin seeking the quashing of the charge sheet in Ishrat Jahan case would be taken up for hearing after court re-opens after the winter break.
Appearing for Amin, senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani told the court that his client was a victim of political machinations.
"Everything is politics. Delay is due to politics," he told the court, pointing to the release of CD pertaining to snooping of a lady allegedly at the instance of Modi.
"Let them (respondents including CBI) file the reply. We can always put the clock back," observed Justice Bobde.
As the court asked Gujarat's Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta if he was supporting petitioner Amin, he said: "I am not supporting but I am perturbed with the way investigation was going on."
Senior counsel Huzefa Ahmedi, who appeared for one of the respondents, told the court how Amin's petition for the quashing of the charge sheet was maintainable under Article 32 of the Constitution which can be invoked only for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
(Posted on 29-11-2013)