New Delhi: While former Home Minister P Chidambaram has been defending his role in filing a second affidavit in the Gujarat high court in 2009 in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider a writ petition to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Uday Lalit directed the matter to be listed for hearing on a mention made by Advocate ML Sharma, who filed this petition in public interest. The petitioner contended that by filing a false affidavit, Chidambaram had committed contempt and perjury. Sharma has also sought the quashing of the false fake encounter case registered against Gujarat police officers based on this affidavit.
Sharma said he found out on February 11 about the deposition of Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley that the four persons, including Ishrat Jahan, killed in June 2004 by the Gujarat police were part of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) terrorist organisation and had been involved in a plot to assassinate Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat at that time. He claimed that it is “a judicial fact” that Jahan and the three others killed in the encounter were terrorists.
The petitioner pointed out that on July 13, 2004, Lahore-based Ghazwa Times quoted someone from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the LeT’s political arm, as saying “…the veil of Ishrat Jehan, a woman activist of LeT, was removed by Indian police and her body was kept with other mujahideens (terrorists) on the ground.” On May 2, 2007, the Jamaat-ud-Dawah carried an apology to Jahan’s family on its website. Sharma said it remained unclear what prompted the apology from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa after three years.
Sharma said that the original affidavit that said Jahan and her associates were LeT operatives was based on an affidavit filed by the IB in the Gujarat high court in August 2009. However, the affidavit was changed in September that year, at Chidambaram’s instance, to remove all references to Jahan’s alleged terror links. Sharma said the Central government at that time appeared unconcerned with the merits of the action taken by Gujarat police and as a result, many officers were facing false cases.
He also said that Headley had disclosed in 2010 to a four-member investigation team, comprising officials from the National Investigation Agency and CBI, that Jahan was a LeT operative, which corroborates the stand of the Gujarat police. The petitioner submitted that if not for the alertness and bravery of Gujarat police, Jahan and her accomplices would have been successful in their mission. He claimed that they were killed during a genuine police action in self defence as they fired at the police. Contending that police officers cannot be prosecuted for their actions in the performance of their duties, he sought a direction to quash the case against the police officers.
Meanwhile, former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai has blamed Chidambaram for changing the affidavit “at the political level”.