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The Gujarat High Court Friday said it would have to work out a model for the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Ishrat Jahan killing to see that the ‘sanctity and spirit of its order is not paralysed due to differences of opinion amongst its members’.

The court’s order came after the members of court-appointed SIT brought out their differences of opinion in functioning of the SIT and carrying out the investigation.

A division bench comprising Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari was hearing an application moved by chairman of the SIT, Karnail Singh, seeking it to appoint amicus curiae for SIT to deal with any legal complications that may come up during the investigation. Singh however was not present before the court.

Satish Verma, an Indian Police Service officer, who was appointed by the court as one of the members of SIT, informed the court about his grievance and objections to the petition.

He said that Singh had moved the petition without obtaining consensus of other members of the team. Holding the application was moved by Singh was moved in his personal capacity and not as a chairman of SIT, Verma claimed that the petition seeking appointment of amicus curiae was vague and did not mention the legal issues on which legal advice may be needed.

Verma also claimed that the court can appoint amicus curiae on its own accord but any officer of the SIT cannot make such request. ‘If SIT needed legal advice, it could get a legal advisor appointed by the state government,’ he added.

However, another member of SIT, Mohan Jha, informed the court that Singh informally discussed with the members in this regard, at a circuit house in Mehsana. Jha said he supports the application moved by Singh.

After such submissions, the court sought to know whether there was any ‘group’ clash in the SIT.

In his reply, Verma said: ‘No sir, it’s not group clash, it’s a difference of opinion.’ He claimed that Singh’s attitude towards the investigation and such difference of opinions would amount to hamper the investigation and would lose the purpose of its creation to unearth the truth.

After hearing them, the court said it would have to hear Singh and others in detail before it decided on the issue. ‘However, we don’t want any indiscipline in the SIT made by us,’ the bench noted.

The court has posted the matter for Jan 28. On the next date, Singh would have to remain personally present and address the court. The court has also asked advocate general to inform it as to what remuneration is normally paid to amicus curiae if it approves the application.

The court had earlier constituted a three member team to probe the case. Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan and others were killed by Gujarat police in a shoot-out June 15, 2004, and said to be members of the terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.


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