INDIAN EXPRESS: AHMEDABAD: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Police come under heavy fire for probe that was ‘controlled’ to let off BJP MP Dinu Solanki.
Slamming Gujarat Police for its “controlled” investigation into the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethva, a division bench of Gujarat High Court on Tuesday ordered a CBI probe in the case.
In the recent past, this is the sixth criminal case wherein the probe has been transferred to the CBI either by HC or the Supreme Court BJP MP from Junagadh, Dinu Solanki, is a prime suspect in the Jethva murder case although Gujarat Police had given him a clean chit.
Since the beginning, the High Court has maintained that the probe in the case was “controlled” to close it after filing a chargesheet.Jethva was shot dead outside the HC building on July 20, 2010, days after he moved a public interest litigation (PIL) against illegal mining in Junagadh. Jethva had directly held Solanki responsible for the illegal work and following his PIL, the HC had made Solanki and his nephew Pratap alias Shiva as respondents to the petition.
“ ... progressive steps cannot be allowed to be nullified and no one should face a threat to his life when he approaches a court of law to exercise his right of access to justice. In such milieu, murder of a petitioner in a PIL and RTI activist, in front of the High Court, could be read as a clear message to the concerned citizens that they may have to pay by their lives if they insist upon using the tools placed in their hands by law and approach the court for redressal of public grievance against some individuals,” observed the bench consisting of Justice D H Waghela and J C Upadhyay.
The bench termed the investigation by Gujarat Police as “far from fair, independent, bona fide or prompt”.The bench pronounced its judgment while acting on a petition moved by Jethva’s father, Bhikha, who had alleged that the Gujarat Police was shielding Dinu Solanki.
The case was first investigated by Sola Police Station, then by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) and later by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Surendranagar district’s Superintendent of Police, Raghvendra Vatsa. The DCB arrested six persons in the case, including Dinu Solanki’s nephew Pratap alias Shiva Solanki. Vatsa endorsed the DCB probe by giving a clean chit to Dinu Solanki
While criticising the investigation as “controlled” at every level, the HC also made a terse remark that additional DGP Mohan Jha was supervising the case throughout. “Mohan Jha continued to guide and control even the further investigation under the orders of this court and, therefore, it was unlikely that any new line of investigation could be pursued which might affect the chargesheets already submitted,” the court observed.
Highlighting the lapses in the police investigation, the HC said the police did not wait for the deceased’s family members or contact them to come and lodge the FIR, or else Solanki’s name could have figured in the FIR itself.
The court also observed that police did not act on the FIR for 25 days and it was “cracked” in one day after the investigation was transferred to the DCB on August 15, “a national holiday”.
The bench also observed that police did not carry out any independent investigation and only followed the statements of the arrested accused while claiming to have cracked the case.DCB officials also did not include in its chargesheet the statements of some independent witnesses who were naming Dinu Solanki in the case.
The court also highlighted other important lapses like the missing memory card from Jethva’s mobile phone, non-recording of Dinu Solanki’s statement till the arrest of the chargesheeted accused and reliance on the accused rather than on relatives of the deceased.