The Bombay High Court will resume in June the hearing on revision petitions filed by Rubabuddin Sheikh and the CBI, challenging the discharge of some senior police officers in the alleged fake encounter of his brother and gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh. Three pleas filed by Rubabuddin Sheikh and another two petitions filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were left part heard when the assignments of some judges in the high court were changed suddenly in February this year. However, a single bench of Justice Nitin Sambre took up the pleas today and said that a schedule to conclude the hearing on the revision petitions will be drawn up on June 20 this year.
Justice Sambre also refused to grant any urgent hearing to Rajkumar Pandian, former IPS officer and one of the discharged accused in the case, on his request seeking permission to travel to Canada next month for a training. At the time of change of assignments in February, a single bench presided by Justice Revati Mohite-Dere had been conducting hearings on the revision applications on a day-to- day basis. The bench had completed the hearings on three out of the five pleas. While the change had led to much speculation, the registrar of the Bombay High Court had termed it as a “routine” exercise. In March this year, Rubabuddin Sheikh’s lawyer, advocate Gautam Tiwari, mentioned it before the new bench presided by Justice Sambre and the pleas were fixed for hearing today.
Since February 9 this year, Justice Mohite-Dere had been conducting day-to-day hearings on the revision pleas filed by Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s brother, challenging the discharge of IPS officers D G Vanzara, Dinesh M N, and Rajkumar Pandian. The judge was also hearing the two revision applications filed by the CBI against the discharge of former Gujarat IPS officer N K Amin and Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod. Justice Mohite-Dere had already heard a major chunk of arguments by all parties on four out of the five revision applications when on the evening of February 24, the assignments of the judges, including hers, were changed.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who is representing Vanzara, Amin, Pandian, and Dinesh M N, was to complete his arguments in favour of Pandian on the next day and the bench was to begin hearing arguments on the plea challenging Vanzara’s discharge after that. Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted and killed by a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers in December 2005. Their aide, Tulsiram Prajapati, was allegedly”killed” by some Rajasthan police officers a year later. A CBI probe termed both cases as that of fake encounters and charged 38 people as accused. Subsequently, a special CBI court in the city discharged 14 people, including the IPS officers and BJP president Amit Shah, in the case.