Ishrat Jahan case: CBI told it needs Centre’s sanction to prosecute Intelligence Bureau officers

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The Attorney General of India GE Vahanvati has told the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI that the agency needs the sanction of the government before it prosecutes serving and retired Intelligence Bureau officers charged in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

The CBI in their supplementary chargesheet filed on Thursday accused former Gujarat IB chief Rajinder Kumar with murder and three serving officers – P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede – with conspiracy and illegal confinement in the 2004 killings.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college student, was killed by Gujarat police along with three men in June, 2004 in a fake encounter on the allegation that they were on their way to kill state Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

But nowhere does the 200-page CBI chargesheet mention a motive for the alleged involvement of these officers, a fact that is expected to exacerbate friction between the Intelligence Bureau and the CBI.

The IB had vehemently objected to Mr. Kumar’s interrogation by the CBI in the case last year, arguing that it would affect the morale down its ranks and also that it would set a dangerous precedent because its members often work undercover and have sources that would dry up if its officers were entangled in police cases. The home ministry had backed the IB.

In its first chargesheet in July last year, the CBI accused seven senior policemen of murdering Ishrat and the others “in cold blood”. Amid the tension with the IB, it did not name Mr Kumar, who was then serving. He retired about a month later.