Sohrabuddin Case: Rahul Gandhi questions transfer of judge

The reassigning of the hearing on the Sohrabuddin case from the Justice Revati bench to another raises many questions. During the hearing, Dere had reprimanded CBI for their negligence in the case

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

NH Web Desk

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday questioned why the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case has claimed yet another judge, after the pleas in the matter were transferred from Justice Revati Dere’s bench and assigned to a new single-judge bench of the Bombay High Court. The Congress president raised questions on continuous transfer of judges and death of Judge Loya in mysterious circumstances, who were hearing the case. Rahul said in a tweet, the Sohrabuddin case claims yet another Judge, Justice Revati Dere, who challenged the CBI has been removed, Judge J T Utpat, asked Amit Shah to appear and was removed, Judge Loya asked tough questions. He died.

BJP President Amit Shah and many more senior police officers were accused. But the lower court has acquitted Amit Shah and almost all other police officers. Dere was hearing the petitions challenging the acquittal of these police officers. Now the case has been transferred to another single bench of Bombay High Court. This decision comes at a time when Justice Dere has finished the hearing of four out of five petitions challenging the acquittal of officers. Dere had been hearing the case on day-to-day basis and had reproached the CBI for their negligence and for not cooperating with the court. Dere has said that court is not getting expected co-operation from the CBI.

The information released on the Bombay High Court website on February 24 says that Justice Revati Mohite Dere bench hearing the criminal review petitions will now be hearing only the petitions for anticipatory bails. Justice NW Sambre’s bench will now be hearing the criminal review petitions. In this case, Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin had challenged the acquittal of former senior IPS officer of Gujarat DG Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandian. The CBI had filed a petition challenging the acquittal of former IPS officer of Gujarat NK Amin and constable Dalpat Singh Rathore. Justice Dere had finished hearing four out of the five petitions related to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case. Only the hearing of the petition challenging the acquittal of DG Vanjara was left.

Senior advocate of the Supreme Court and social activist Prashant Bhushan has also raised questions on removing Justice Dere from hearing this case. In a tweet he said, “Sohrabuddin murder case: Trial court judge Utpat threatens Shah with warrant. He is transferred. Successor Judge Loya who summons Shah dies mysteriously. New judge discharges Shah in one hearing. HC Judge Dere who questions discharge is also transferred! Malafide?”

Serious questions arise on the transfer of petitions regarding Sohrabuddin case to another bench from Justice Revati’s bench. Although these petitions have no direct links with BJP Chief Amit Shah, because some senior police officers were accused in the matter when Amit Shah was the home minister of Gujarat, the case somehow gets linked to him. After hearing the petitions daily for two weeks, Justice Revati had stated that the CBI is not fully cooperating with the court. Justice Dere had said that the CBI has been unable to keep a record of the evidences against the people who were discharged in the case. The investigative agency should present all the evidences before the court. But despite the court’s repeated questioning, the CBI reportedly always focused only on the role of those two officers in the court, whose acquittal it had challenged.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged encounter by Gujarat Police in November 2005. Sheikh’s associate Tulsiram Prajapati was killed in another alleged encounter by Gujarat and Rajasthan police in 2006. The CBI had charged 38 persons in this case and these included Vanzara, Pandian, Dinesh MN and BJP President Amit Shah. From August 2016 to September 2017, 15 accused were acquitted by a special CBI court and these included DG Vanzara, Amit Shah, Pandian and Dinesh MN.

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