SC refuses to consider remission plea by convict in 2003 Gujarat HM Haren Pandya murder case

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Top Court noted that the convict's petition was coming up for hearing before the Gujarat High Court on September 3, 2024 and he had already been released on parole

The Supreme Court has refused to consider the plea by a convict in the murder case of then Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, seeking a direction to the state government to decide his plea for remission.

A bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan took note of the fact that his petition is coming up for hearing before the Gujarat High Court on September 3, 2024 and he had already been released on parole.

"The applicant is a convict under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). It is true that he is undergoing sentence past 14 years. The main petition is pending before the High Court of Gujarat in the form of Special Criminal Application," the bench noted.

Senior advocate Archana Pathak Dave, appearing for the State, informed that as on date the applicant herein had been released on parole for a period of eight weeks.

"We may only request the High Court to give some priority to Special Criminal Application on 3rd September, 2024," the bench said, disposing of the application filed by Kalimahmed @ Kalim Mulla Muhammad Habib Karini.

It further noted this was a second Miscellaneous Application in a disposed of petition. As such, no miscellaneous application was maintainable under law in a disposed of petition.

Gujarat High Court had in its order on July 2, 2024 directed for release of the applicant on parole.

"This court finds that in the instant case also as the petitioner’s case for remission is pending since long and still according to APP, some more time is likely to consume by the State in arriving at a decision upon the application made by the petitioner, therefore, the court deems it fit and appropriate to enlarge the present applicant on parole for a period of 8 weeks from today on usual terms an conditions," a single judge bench of the high court had said.

The High Court had also taken note of the fact that it was not in dispute that in a similar cases, Supreme Court in case of Mafabhai Motibhai Sagar Vs State of Gujarat and others, while passing the order on September 11, 2023 in Special Leave to Appeal (Crl) as the State took considerable long time to consider the prayer of premature release of the petitioner, had enlarged the accused-applicant on parole on appropriate terms and conditions.

Then Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya was shot dead outside Law Garden in Ahmedabad on March 26, 2003. The CBI had investigated the case and said that Pandya was allegedly killed to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In July, 2019, the Supreme Court had set aside the Gujarat High Court's 2011 judgement that had acquitted nine out of 12 convicts, undergoing life term, in the case of sensational killing of Pandya on March 26, 2003 in Ahmedabad.

The apex court had then restored the trial court's judgement of June 25, 2007 which awarded life imprisonment to nine persons and handed out sentences ranging from five to seven years to the other three under various provisions of the IPC, Arms Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.