Haren Pandya case: All 12 acquitted of murder charge

AHMEDABAD — The Gujarat High Court on Monday acquitted all the 12 accused of murdering former Home Minister, Haren Pandya eight years ago but ruled that the charges related to ‘criminal conspiracy’ and ‘attempt to murder’ would remain on them.

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Published: Wed 31 Aug 2011, 12:24 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:41 PM

Partially allowing the appeals filed by the convicts, the court also passed severe strictures against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which had probed the 2003 assassination, for ‘botching up’ and ‘causing injustice to the accused and wastage of public resources’.

A special Pota court had convicted the 12 accused on June 25, 2007, and awarded life imprisonment to nine of them. Two others were given seven years in jail and one was handed down a five-year jail term. The main accused from Hyderabad, sharp-shooter Asghar Ali, was punished with imprisonment till he is alive.

Pandya, a popular leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who did not see eye with eye with Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was shot dead in his car near a public garden where he had gone for a morning walk on March 26, 2003.

The case was initially probed by the Ahmedabad crime branch headed by DG Vanjara, who is now in jail in a fake encounter case, but subsequently, the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had ordered a CBI probe.

The CBI had stated in its charge-sheet that the saffronite politician was done to death to avenge the killings of Muslims in the 2002 communal riots.

While Pandya’s father, who died three years ago, had been publicly blaming Modi for what he called ‘political murder’, the BJP leader’s widow had been demanding a fresh probe after the Pota court verdict.

Gujarat government sources told Khaleej Times that the CBI might challenge the Gujarat High Court in the Supreme Court.

Relatives of the convicts, some of whom will now be set free, said they had heaved a sigh of relief but the judgement could have come much earlier.

mahesh@khaleejtimes.com



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