Ahmedabad: Slamming the CBI for its ‘washed up’ and ‘blinkered’ investigations in the 2003 Haren Pandya murder case, the Gujarat High Court on Monday dropped murder charges against all the 12 accused in the case.

However, the charges of attempt to murder will remain on all the accused. This means that the appeal of the accused in the sensational murder case is partially allowed, Special Public Prosecutor J M Panchal said.

A division bench of the High Court comprising justices D H Vaghela and J C Upadhyay said the investigations by the Central agency in the case were "washed up, blinkered and had left lot to desire."

Criticising the CBI, the court further said the investigating officer should be made accountable for such lapses which have caused injustice to the accused and wastage of public resources.

It said the investigation agency could not prove murder charges hence the conviction by the trial court, where the accused were convicted of murder with criminal conspiracy would not survive hence the order is set aside.

Panchal said that following the court verdict, the sentence of the most of the accused except the prime accused Ashgar Ali is likely to be reduced.

Pandya, former Minister of State for Home, was shot dead on March 26, 2003, near Law Garden area of the city when he had gone for a morning walk.

The CBI had stated in its charge sheet that the murder was carried out to avenge the 2002 riots.

A special POTA court had convicted 12 accused in the case out of total 15 who were nabbed.

The court had sentenced nine persons to life imprisonment while two others were awarded seven years prison and another was handed out a five-year-jail term. The main accused from Hyderabad, Ashgar Ali was sentenced to remain in prison till he is alive.

(Agencies)