The Bombay High Court today asked the CBI to submit a chart giving names of police officers whose discharge from the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case has been challenged, and the roles ascribed to them in the charge sheet. Justice Revati Mohite-Dere also said that she would hear the petitions filed by Shaikh’s brother Rubabuddin Shaikh and the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the discharge of some of the accused on a daily basis. “Give a chart…containing the names of those whose discharge has been challenged, the charges and sections imposed by the CBI (against them) in the charge sheet,” the judge said. The hearing will begin from February 9. Rubabuddin has filed revision applications challenging the trial court orders between August 2016 and August 2017 discharging IPS officers D G Vanzara (retired), Rajkumar Pandiyan, and Dinesh M N from the case. The trial court discharged 15 of the 38 people named by the CBI in its charge sheet during this period.
Those discharged also included IPS officer N K Amin, several Gujarat police officials and BJP president Amit Shah. The central agency has, however, only challenged the discharge of Amin and police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod. The special CBI court in Mumbai had discharged the police officials on the ground that the CBI failed to get a prior sanction to prosecute them. At an earlier hearing, the high court had asked whether the mere lack of prior sanction was enough to discharge them. Justice Mohite-Dere had also asked why the CBI did not challenge the discharge of senior IPS officials in the case. Today, as the CBI lawyer sought adjournment for three weeks, the high court asked why the agency was not keen on expeditious hearing, as the trial has already started.
Shaikh’s lawyer also informed the court that several witnesses have turned hostile. “The trial began on November 28, so shouldn’t you be more anxious to ensure that the discharge pleas are heard soon? Why are you not more anxious?” Justice Mohite-Dere asked. Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a gangster with alleged terror links, and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). Shaikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005, after which his wife disappeared.
Tulsiram Prajapati, Shaikh’s aide and an eyewitness to the ‘fake’ encounter, was allegedly killed by Gujarat police in December 2006. Vanzara, who was heading the ATS then, and some other senior police officials were charged by the CBI for conspiring to kill Shaikh and others in fake encounters. Of the 40 witnesses examined by the special court in Mumbai, 32 have turned hostile.