HC reserves verdict on PIL urging CBI to challenge Amit Shah discharge in Sohrabuddin case; report

A Bombay HC bench has reserved its verdict on a Bombay Lawyer’s Association PIL which urges CBI to challenge a 2014 order discharging BJP chief Amit Shah in relation to Sohrabuddin encounter killing

Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS
Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS
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NH Web Desk

Legal news website Bar & Bench has reported that the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, October 3 reserved judgment in a public interest petition filed by the Bombay Lawyer’s Association in January this year, which urges that the CBI must challenge a 2014 order discharging Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah in relation to the Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati alleged encounter killings.

Gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, who the Gujarat police claimed was also a terrorist, was killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in 2005. His wife Kausar Bi disappeared, and was alleged to have been eliminated by police. Shaikh's associate Tulsi Prajapati was also later killed in an alleged fake encounter.

The CBI took over the probe in February 2010 and filed a chargesheet in July the same year against 23 accused, including Amit Shah, who at that time was the minister of state for home in Gujarat. The trial court, over a period of time, discharged several accused in the case, including Shah and three IPS officers.

The Bar & Bench report mentioned the following points:

  • The CBI raised preliminary objections on the maintainability of the petition filed by Bombay Lawyer’s Assocation; Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appearing for CBI argued that it was filed for publicity
  • The Court asked the CBI if it had seriously taken into consideration challenging the discharge of Amit Shah from the case. The CBI replied that it had, however, there was no documentation before the Court to substantiate the same
  • The CBI asked why the discharge was being questioned now, when the order was passed by the trial court in 2014
  • Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, arguing for the petitioners BLA, cited a Supreme Court order which handed over the investigation of the Sohrabuddin and Prajapati cases to the CBI and alleged that the CBI did not conduct an impartial investigation
  • Dave also asked why CBI challenged discharge of some accused in the encounter cases but did not challenge discharge of Amit Shah; Dave added that CBI did not assign any reasons for the same
  • The bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharathi Harish Dangre reserved judgment after hearing the parties

BLA questions Amit Shah’s discharge and change of judges in Sohrabuddin case

In its petition, according to the report, the petitioners have said that the BLA chose to challenge the discharge of three accused police officers—Rajasthan police sub-inspectors Himanshu Singh and Shyam Singh Charan and senior Gujarat police officer NK Amin—in the case in 2014, but failed to challenge the discharge of BJP President Amit Shah, and contended that this was “arbitrary” and “mala fide.

BLA also contended that the discharge of Amit Shah by the trial court was erroneous, reported Bar & Bench, quoting from their petition which said,According to CBI, it had incontrovertible material and circumstances to establish the charges against Amitbhai Shah, which were accepted by the Supreme Court while deciding the Transfer Petition… Records of the case discussed in said judgment clearly establishes that there was sufficient ground to proceed against Shri Amit Shah.”

Bar & Bench further reported that BLA’s PIL also questioned the transfer of Special CBI Judge JT Utpat, who was originally assigned to hear the case, when the Supreme Court had ordered that the case be heard by one judge from start to finish. BLA’s petition has asked why, then, Utpat was transferred to Pune in June 2014 and replaced by another Judge BH Loya, who subsequently died [on December 1, 2014]. The case was “then heard by Judge MB Gosavi, who allowed Amit Shah’s discharge application on [December 30, 2014] and the same went unchallenged by the CBI”, said the report.

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