The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a writ petition seeking fresh investigation into the Haren Pandya case based upon the claims made in journalist Rana Ayyub’s book. The apex court instead overturned a a Gujarat High Court order which had acquitted the 12 people convicted of murdering former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in 2003. The judgement of a trial court convicting the 12, was restored.
The CBI had reached out to the Supreme Court, after Gujarat High Courts overturned the earlier trial court order. Along with the appeal, the court also heard a writ petition filed by legal NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation. The petition raised several questions on the investigation of the murder itself by making arguments which were based in Ayyub’s book, ‘Gujarat Files – Anatomy of a coverup’.
The Supreme Court however, found no merit in the evidence submitted by the petitioners. The bench said, “The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value”. Implying that the arguments made by Rana Ayyub in her book are her opinions, the court said that “The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence.”
Most importantly, the judgement says that there is a likelihood of it being politically motivated, which cannot be ruled out. “The way in which the things have moved in Gujarat post – Godhra incident, such allegations and counter – allegations are not uncommon and had been raised a number of times and have been found to be untenable and afterthought”, the court notes.
Dismissing the writ petition, the Supreme Court also imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on the petitioners.