In a set back to CBI which probed the Haren Pandya murder case, Gujarat high court on Monday acquitted all the 12 accused of murder charges and passed severe strictures against the investigating agency.
The court has upheld that charges of criminal conspiracy under section 120(B) and attempt to murder under section 307.
The Pota court had convicted 12 people of which nine were awarded life imprisonment in 2006.
Pandya, a former junior home minister and rival of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, was killed in broad day light near a public garden where he had gone for a morning walk on March 26, 2003.
Murder of Pandya had shocked the entire state and also the BJP workers as Pandya was emerging as a rallying point for dissident BJP workers in the state.
The case was initially probed by Ahmedabad crime branch headed by DG Vanjara, who is now in jail in a fake encounter case, but subsequently, the then deputy prime minister LK Advani had ordered a CBI probe.
The central agency had held that the murder was a revenge of killings of Muslims in 2002 riots.
CBI had arrested a Hyderabad based sharpshooter Asgar Ali, who had killed Pandya near Law Garden.
Ever since his murder, Pandya's father Vithalbhai Pandya (who passed away three years ago) always maintained that his son was a victim of political conspiracy because he was not on good terms with Narendra Modi.
Subsequently, his widow Jagruti Pandya wrote to Modi in 2010 and demanded reinvestigation in the case.