Sohrabuddin case: Your witnesses turning hostile, what protection, HC asks CBI

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Mumbai | Published: February 13, 2018 1:43:58 AM

Noting that several witnesses had turned hostile during the trial of the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, the Bombay HC Monday pulled up the CBI, asking it what protection had been provided to prosecution witnesses.

Sohrabuddin case, Sohrabuddin. CBI, hc, bombay hcSohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausarbi . (IE)

Noting that several witnesses had turned hostile during the trial of the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, the Bombay HC Monday pulled up the CBI, asking it what protection had been provided to prosecution witnesses.

“Is this the seriousness with which the CBI is conducting the trial,” observed justice Revati Mohite-Dere. She was hearing three applications filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, challenging the discharge of former Gujarat DIG DG Vanzara, Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh MN and Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandiyan, along with two applications filed by the CBI, challenging the discharge of Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat police officer NK Amin.

“What protection are you offering to your witnesses? It is your duty to protect the witnesses, so they can depose fearlessly. You can’t file a chargesheet and not give your witness protection,” said justice Mohite-Dere.

As of Monday, 30 witnesses presented by the prosecution to support its case that Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausarbi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati were victims of extra-judicial killings have turned hostile in the special CBI court in Mumbai.

“What action are you taking in cases where witnesses have turned hostile? Are they being charged for perjury for giving false evidence?” justice Mohite-Dere asked. Representing the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said he would have to take instructions regarding this.

“You don’t need to conduct the case if this is your attitude. What protection are you providing to witnesses? They are turning hostile. Is this the seriousness with which you (CBI) are conducting the trial,” the judge said, adding that the investigating agency cannot be a silent spectator.

Justice Mohite-Dere said she was not getting assistance that she should have. “I want a larger picture placed before me, not just isolated statements,” she said.

Mohite-Dere made these remarks while hearing arguments of senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani who was representing Amin.

The CBI had relied on the statement of a constable from the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Gujarat who claimed that Amin was present at the spot when Kausarbi’s body was burnt. Presented as one of two key eyewitnesses to the abduction and the alleged encounter of Sheikh and the killing of his wife, this witness retracted his statements several times.

According to Jethmalani, the constable’s statements made in April 26, 2007 to the CID and on May 11, 2010 to the CBI were exactly the same.

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