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Gujarat government submits sealed ‘secret’ papers in Haren Pandya case


Gandhinagar : The Gujarat government Friday submitted a sealed cover containing “vital details” related to the murder of former BJP minister Haren Pandya before the state high court.

The bench comprising Justices R.R. Tripathi and P.P. Bhatt took the sealed cover on record, while observing that by doing so, it would not prejudice the case of any of the parties.

Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta submitted before the court that the cover be kept in the court’s custody. He however said they were not relying upon the documents in the sealed cover as of now.

Mehta stated that they would provide the documents to the convicts if and when the government was going to rely upon the documents.

Objecting, defence lawyer Somnath Vatsa told the court that submission of the sealed cover containing “secret documents” related to the case was an unknown process to the law.

He maintained that the government was not even a prosecution agency and it should have done so through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is the prosecution agency in the case.

The CBI has not objected to the submission of the sealed cover. It on the contrary kept silent on the issue, which was referred to by Justice Tripathi as “Pandora’s Box”.

The CBI counsel Y.N. Ravani said: “We have not objected to the move since the state is not relying on it at present.”

He further added that “If and when they rely on the same and provide the copies, we will decide our action.”

In a recent communication, government pleader Prakash Jani had urged the high court registry to keep the cover containing the “vital details” in its custody as it was to be placed on record in connection with the proceedings of the case in the court.

Haren Pandya, a former home minister, was assassinated in March 26, 2003 near the Law Garden in Ellisbridge area of Ahmedabad.

The investigation of the case was done by CBI and the accused were slapped with charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

A special POTA Court, in June 2007, convicted 12 people in the case, nine of them getting life imprisonment.

The 12 convicts have preferred criminal appeals before the high court and final hearing on those appeals is expected to commence soon before the division bench.