The Supreme Court on Thursday admitted the appeal filed by the CBI and the Gujarat government challenging the Gujarat high court’s order acquitting 12 persons in the murder of former state minister Haren Pandya.
The Gujarat high court had on August 29, 2010, set aside a trial court’s verdict holding the accused guilty of murder. It, however, upheld the trial court's decision to convict them for criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam issued notices to the acquitted persons and admitted the appeal. In its appeal before the SC, the CBI claimed the HC judgment was erroneous and that there was ample evidence to hold the accused guilty of murder.
Pandya, a former minister of state for home in the BJP government and a close aide of chief minister Narendra Modi, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, in Ahmedabad when he was out for a morning walk.
According to the CBI, Pandya was murdered to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state. It alleged that prior to Pandya’s killing, the convicts had made an attempt on the life of a local VHP leader Jagdish Tewari on March 11, 2003.
The agency claimed these two incidents were part of a single conspiracy to spread terror among people in the aftermath of post-Godhra riots.