The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday told a court that it had asked the Gujarat government for permission to prosecute former Gujarat Police officers DG Vanzara and NK Amin for their alleged role in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, The Indian Express reported.

The special CBI court had in August asked the agency to “either obtain sanction for prosecution from the concerned authority or declare in writing the legal position as per the law, with regard to sanction for prosecution against the accused”. Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code makes it compulsory for an investigating agency to secure the government’s permission before prosecuting a public servant.

The court had rejected Vanzara and Amin’s discharge pleas during the August hearing. The investigating agency had opposed the officers’ discharge pleas, saying it had sufficient evidence to establish that Vanzara was the mastermind of the entire operation and Amin was present at the encounter site. Jahan’s mother, Shamima Kauser, had filed an objection petition against the discharge pleas.

The CBI, on Monday, told the court that “it will take time” to secure the government’s approval. “We have approached the state government for the sanction [to prosecute Vanzara and Amin],” CBI inspector Ketan Mehta told special judge JK Pandya. The court scheduled the next hearing for November 22.

The Indian Express said its attempts to contact Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Anand Mohan Tiwari for his response on the matter failed.

The investigating agency did not request for government permission before it filed charges, in 2013, against seven Gujarat police officials, including Director General of Police PP Pandey and Vanzara, the report said.

In 2014, the agency said it had sought permission from the central government while filing a supplementary chargesheet against four accused Intelligence Bureau officers. The next year though, the Union Home Ministry declined giving its approval to the CBI on the matter, prompting the court to revoke the summons issued to the accused officers.

The alleged fake encounter case

In June 2004, Jahan and three others were killed in an alleged encounter with security forces on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The Gujarat Police had claimed that the four had links with terrorist groups and were conspiring to kill Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat’s chief minister at the time. However, a special investigation team set up by the High Court had found the encounter to be fake. After this, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Vanzara, a former deputy inspector general of Ahmedabad Crime Branch, had told the court he should be let go as the CBI chargesheet was “concocted and politically motivated” and there was “no prosecutable material” against him.

Amin, in his plea, had accused the investigating agency of not following the proper legal procedure while making certain accused approvers in the case. He was a superintendent of police, working under Vanzara, at the time of the incident.